Are Physicians Ready To Meet Consumer Demand For Genomics?

By Joel Diamond, MD, FAAFP, chief medical officer, 2bPrecise.

Joel Diamond, MD
Joel Diamond, MD

Patients are becoming more engaged in (and financially responsible for) their own care. As such, they are increasingly interested in information about their health risks and which courses of treatment have the best potential for success. In my practice, I have seen a sharp rise in the number of patients asking about genetic and genomic tests.

Healthcare consumers are drawn to the idea that this information can unlock answers to persistent health problems, or reveal risk for future issues. They want genetic information to lay out a clear path forward for prevention and treatment, perhaps indicating which medications will be most effective for their profile. It’s one of the reasons why direct-to-consumer genetic testing, such as 23andMe, has become so popular.

The precision medicine learning curve

Soon we will move from individual gene tests and panels to exome and full genome testing, some of which is happening today. As the concept of applying genomics and precision medicine gains momentum, physicians are enthusiastic about the potential of personalized care plans to improve patient outcomes.

But are physicians equipped with the right tools to put precision medicine into practice? For example, can we identify which patients might benefit from genetic testing? Do we know what test to order? How do we interpret results? How do we incorporate this information into the patient record? And of course, cost is always an issue: Who pays for these tests?

These are some of the many questions physicians are wrestling with today. If they have a clinical-genomic solution within the electronic health record (EHR) workflow, they can get some of the support they need to meet rising demand for personalized medicine and care plans.

3 trends to watch as consumers drive precision medicine into the mainstream

Consumer interest shows no signs of slowing, which will continue to bring new challenges and opportunities into the physician’s office. Trends include:

As a physician, I see great promise in genomics and precision medicine to enable smarter, more precise care. I believe that consumers are going to drive the growth of genomics and precision medicine, faster and more efficiently than organized medicine ever could. The explosion of data, combined with hope and promise, will only continue to accelerate.

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