Innovation in practice: using genomic testing in routine care to boost population health
Genomic testing has been used for years on a case-by-case basis in clinical care, but is now increasingly seen as an important contributor to advancing population health. In September, Feby Abraham, PhD, Chief Strategy Officer of Houston-based Memorial Hermann Health System, and James Lu, MD, PhD, co-founder and CEO of Helix, came together to discuss the role of genomics programs in supporting health systems’ population and precision health objectives. Here are our key takeaways:
- Population genomics is an emerging macrotrend that will permeate all parts of healthcare. This outlook is driven by a growing understanding among clinicians of how health determinants — including behavioral, environmental and social, and genetic and biological components — impact an individual’s health risks and outcomes. However, while organizations are actively leveraging the first two categories in day-to-day clinical care, the full potential of genetics is yet to be realized at scale.
- An end-to-end approach can help organizations apply genomics as a routine screening tool. “Genomics testing over time needs to be as easy to do as cholesterol testing,” Lu said, explaining how Helix’s integrated solution helps organizations perform routine sequencing and interpretation as part of an overarching genomic strategy, execution, and engagement model. He noted that a recent study showed that one in 75 patients that underwent genomic screening was identified as at-risk for familial hypercholesterolemia, Lynch syndrome, or hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, but startling 90% of those patients would have been missed in standard clinical care.
- With a recruitment goal of 100,000 patients, Memorial Hermann plans to implement routine genomic screening in what would be one of the largest population health research programs in Texas. The strategic goals of the program, which will embed the Helix end-to-end platform, are to:
- Improve clinical outcomes through earlier disease detection.
- Reduce total cost of care through early identification of at-risk patients and proactive interventions or management of disease.
- Shape the market by becoming a leader in personalized care, laying the foundation for enhanced research capabilities and expanding the pool of patients served in a preventative manner.
“We are going to innovate care delivery to inspire patients to [engage in] more proactive upfront interventions,” Abraham said. He emphasized that higher patient engagement would be accomplished by intensifying patient education efforts as part of the genomic screening program. That, in turn, will improve patient retention, which is a key benefit for providers delivering care both under a fee-for-service and a value-based model.
As organizations embrace using genomic screening and data more broadly, integrated solutions that power large-scale clinical and research programs such as Memorial Hermann’s will be central to implementing enterprise-wide genomics initiatives. Get in touch with our team to learn more about how a turn-key program like this could improve care, reduce costs and drive innovation at your organization.
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Helix is the leading population genomics and viral surveillance company operating at the intersection of clinical care, research, and data analytics.