The Fund supports several networks of state health policymakers to help identify, inspire, and inform policy leaders.
The Milbank Memorial Fund supports two state leadership programs for legislative and executive branch state government officials committed to improving population health.
The Fund identifies and shares policy ideas and analysis on topics important to state health policymakers, particularly on issues related to state leadership, primary care, aging, and health care costs.
Keep up with news and updates from the Milbank Memorial Fund. And read the latest blogs from our thought leaders, including Fund President Christopher F. Koller.
The Fund publishes The Milbank Quarterly, as well as reports, issues briefs, and case studies on topics important to health policy leaders.
The Milbank Memorial Fund is is a nonpartisan foundation focused on improving the health of communities and entire populations.
Original Scholarship Health care practice / quality
Back to The Milbank Quarterly
Context: Precision medicine, which addresses underlying molecular mechanisms of disease, depends on new technologies that measure specific biomarkers, leading (it is anticipated) to more accurate diagnosis, patient stratification, and tailored treatment. These technologies can be disruptive—that is, they make possible, and often require, radical changes to clinical practice and service organization—thereby improving quality, safety, or efficiency of care. Clinical practice guidelines may act as “trailblazers,” introducing and legitimizing novel technologies and practices.
Methods: We describe a case study of an attempt by academic researchers to radically change asthma management in the United Kingdom using a precision medicine biomarker (fractional exhaled nitric oxide, FeNO), measured using a portable breath device. We collected a wide‐ranging data set that included more than 100 documents, 61 interviews, and 150 hours of ethnographic observation, and we analyzed it using technology‐enhanced strong structuration theory (TESST).
Findings: Our study describes a so‐far unsuccessful attempt by academic respiratory medicine researchers to pave the way for a precision medicine approach to asthma using a government‐endorsed national guideline. These researchers considered asthma management, especially in primary care, to be characterized by overdiagnosis and poor tailoring of treatment; engaged a national guideline development body in an effort to fix this problem; and ensured that the guideline required primary care clinicians to use FeNO technology for diagnosis and monitoring. However, clinicians working outside the tertiary referral centers did not accept, or agree to enact, the vision of precision medicine inscribed in the guideline—for multiple professional, operational, and economic reasons.
Conclusions: “Trailblazer” guidelines, in which new technologies are recommended, may succeed as catalysts of change only in a limited way for interested individuals and groups. In the absence of a wider program of professionally led and adequately resourced change efforts, such guidelines will lack meaning, legitimacy, and authority among intended users and may be strongly resisted.
Keywords: disruptive innovation, precision medicine, clinical practice guide-lines, sociology of hope, strong structuration theory.
Jul 13, 2021
Get the Latest from the Milbank Memorial Fund
The Milbank Quarterly’s multidisciplinary approach and commitment to applying the best empirical research to practical policymaking offers in-depth assessments of the social, economic, political, historical, legal, and ethical dimensions of health and health care policy.