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A P4 Approach to Medicine

By Kyle Riley, BSc (hons)


P4 medicine (predictive, preventative, personalized, participatory) was coined by Dr. Leroy Hood of the Institute for Systems Biology to demonstrate his framework to detect and prevent disease. The P4 approach is something that aligns with our education in Precision Health and an important piece of the puzzle in the elimination of preventable lifestyle disease. 

Lets take a look at the 4 principles in a little more detail.


P1 – Prevention

Prevention is the ability to understand the pathophysiology of disease and the factors that may influence disease so that you can take action to stop, or recognize disease in early stages. The key goals of preventative strategies are to provide interventions that increase the chances of reversal or treatment of disease. A simple example of this can be found in smoking cessation, which would be an important preventative step in reducing the risk of cancer.  ⁠

As the old saying goes, ‘Prevention is the best cure’.

P2 – Predictive ⁠

Predictive medicine involves identifying biological markers (such as genes) and other risk factors (be it lifestyle or environmental) that relate to disease to be able to understand and plan for the effects of illnesses in advance. Advances in health technology such as use of Artificial Intelligence, testing/diagnostics and biometric tracking are bringing incredible power to predictive medicine through both initial and ongoing assessment capabilities. At PHA, we use assessment technology and predictive analytics to gain a deeper understanding of a person’s health needs and the ways in which we can support their current health status.


P3 – Personalized ⁠

In personalized medicine both care and treatment are based entirely on the individual. ⁠

Through identifying genetic or epigenetic factors associated with an individual, you can provide a greater level of personalization in both prevention and treatment of disease. There is no one size fits all treatment plan when it comes to health or disease management and often, 2 people with a similar condition will need a completely different approach to achieve the desired outcome. Personalization must be applied in all areas of health intervention, from exercise and nutrition recommendations through to stress management plans, sleep strategies and prescriptive medicine. 

P4 – Participatory ⁠

Participation is the final and most overlooked component of P4 medicine. ⁠

It is important that patients are well involved and actively participate in their own care. A major focus of this approach is to empower patients in taking responsibility for their behaviours and habits, whilst under the guidance of the health professional to overcome barriers that may occur along the way. A participatory approach to behaviour change can benefit the patient-physician or client-coach relationship by inspiring trust, cooperation and adherence. ⁠

The PHA Level 1 Course has been developed so that health professionals can apply all elements of P4 medicine through the application of precision health assessment technology alongside personalized health coaching techniques that inspire clients to take control of their personal health journey.⁠

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