When we read about genetics and the future of medicine, we should also think about genetics and the future of health services that have to deliver medical care. The advent of predictive medicine, based on more detailed DNA profiling of individual genotypes using technologies like gene chips, rather than screening for one gene at a time, may shift the relationship between doctor and patient. People will be seeking advice on how to manage their susceptibilities or genetic risks, rather than looking for treatment for an already existing disorder.
This will have implications for how healthcare is organized — in terms of standardizing technologies, informing clients, and training staff. We know little as yet about how this transition will need to be managed.
All these changes will occur against a backcloth of public debate and government consultation and decision-making about new genetic technologies. The best ways to involve ordinary citizens in this discussion are still being worked out.