With precision medicine heating up, Genome Medical launches genetic services for employers

The company wants to help employer groups offer genetic testing to employees through confidential consults with providers and includes a telemedicine option.
By Bill Siwicki
12:22 PM
precision medicine

Precision medicine is gaining steam as consumers and healthcare organizations get up to speed with what promises to be a new paradigm in wellness care delivery. Consider the genetic testing startup 23andMe, which just landed $250 million in funding this past September. That financing brings the total capital raised by the company to $491 million as the kits become more popular.

And just this week, both Google and Microsoft participated in a $58 million funding round into precision medicine upstart DNAnexus and its cloud-based platform for machine learning and the sharing of biomedical and genomics data.

With this sort of momentum industry-wide, another startup, Genome Medical, has just launched programs designed to enable employer groups to offer genetic services and physician-guided genetic testing to their employees through its national network of clinical genetic experts. Employees can consult independently with Genome Medical providers – including telemedicine consultations – to ensure confidentiality and privacy of employee health information.

With more than 5,000 inherited genetic disorders and only about 6,000 practicing genetic experts in the United States, finding and accessing the right professional can be a challenge, and wait times for an appointment can be long. Further, research shows that non-genetic specialist doctors have an order error rate for genetic testing that is three times the error rate of genetic specialists, according to Genome Medical.

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"Many individuals have a family history suggestive of an inherited condition such as cancer or heart disease, but lack guidance from their own providers about how to evaluate these risks," said Robert Green, MD, a medical geneticist at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Genome Medical. "Employer programs that provide their employees with confidential access to independent genetics experts can help these individuals and their families benefit from evaluation and testing that meet established recommendations.” 

Genome Medical now offers employer groups four genetic programs. The first is genetic medical services. Genome Medical can help identify individuals at risk for an inherited disease or condition who would qualify for genetic testing under current medical guidelines and insurance coverage. Services include genetic counseling, genetic test ordering when indicated, simplified sample collection, medical case management and referrals as needed.

Proactive health programs, meanwhile, offer preemptive genetic screening for actionable genetic conditions to help individuals learn of genetic risks and take appropriate action. The program includes: detection of changes in genes associated with inheritable cancers, cardiovascular diseases and blood disorders; how genes affect response to anesthesia and other medications; and carrier testing for family planning and reproductive health.

The company’s Genetics Resource Center offers a national network of genetic experts to employees. Using interactive tools, real-time chat services and a telehealth platform, individuals can ask questions and explore options across the full spectrum of genetic topics and conditions.

And the second opinion program provides a resource for employees to get an expert opinion on any genetic-related diagnosis or treatment plan. Genome Medical’s network includes physicians across multiple specialties at top medical institutions who can provide expert second opinions.

"Recent studies suggest that many patients who meet guidelines for genetic testing are not receiving appropriate genetic services," said Lisa Alderson, co-founder and CEO of Genome Medical. "Genome Medical employer programs can help accelerate access to the standard of care in genetics by providing another avenue to identify individuals for whom a genetic test might be beneficial. Employees gain access to information that helps them be proactive about their health, and having healthier employees is in the interest of all employers."

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: bill.siwicki@himssmedia.com

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