Program is first to use the patient’s DNA in routine healthcare to better treat or prevent disease
Under the program, patients will be routinely screened to see if they have any gene variations linked to certain diseases. This information will help doctors better treat or even prevent diseases in their patients.
“Understanding our genome’s warning signals will become an essential part of managing our health,” Dr. Feinberg said. “Participants can now work with their physicians to deal with what their genome reveals long before they become sick. That might involve making lifestyle changes to reduce their risks or understanding future healthcare needs. This allows us to provide truly anticipatory healthcare, instead of only reacting when it may be too late to change the outcome.”
One of the main early goals of the clinical DNA sequencing program launched today is for Geisinger to learn how best to use such genomic testing, screening and counseling on a wide scale, inside a routine clinical setting, which has never been done before.
Just as they would for any other screening test, patients in the program will consent to an exome sequencing test. The exome is a very small subset of a person’s DNA. Changes in the exome are closely correlated with potential risk for diseases including many different cancers, heart disease and other health risks. The results – both positive and negative – will be reported back to each patient and then become a part of their medical record.
Until now, this exome screening was being done only through Geisinger’s pioneering research program called the MyCode Community Health Initiative. More than 200,000 participants have helped build a biobank of DNA samples to study the relationship between genes and disease. In addition, MyCode has already reported clinical genetic results to more than 700 participants, primarily for significantly increased risks for cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Based on prior experience with MyCode, Geisinger expects that between two and four percent of adult patients will learn they have a potentially disease-causing change in one of the 59 genes to be evaluated.
The program is being launched in two clinics initially, the Internal Medicine Clinic at Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, and at the Kistler Clinic in Wilkes-Barre. As an integrated delivery system that includes health and clinical resources such as doctors, hospitals, and laboratory services, Geisinger is well-positioned to eventually offer the new exome screening program to all three million patients.
“By extending exome sequencing into clinical care through deliberate and carefully implemented efforts such as this program, we are continuing the hard work, begun with MyCode, to establish the evidence base needed to incorporate precision health into routine healthcare,” said David H. Ledbetter, Ph.D., Geisinger executive vice president and chief scientific officer.
One of the nation’s most innovative health services organizations, Geisinger serves more than 1.5 million patients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The system includes 13 hospital campuses, a nearly 600,000-member health plan, two research centers and the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. Geisinger is known for its focus on caring and innovative programs including the ProvenCare® best-practice approach to maximize quality, safety and value; ProvenHealth Navigator® advanced medical home; Springboard Health® population health program to improve the health of an entire community; ProvenExperience™ to provide refunds to patients unhappy with their care experience; and Geisinger’s MyCode® Community Health Initiative, the largest healthcare system-based precision health project in the world. With more than 215,000 volunteer participants enrolled, MyCode is conducting extensive research and returning medically actionable results to participants. A physician-led organization, with approximately 32,000 employees and more than 1,800 employed physicians, Geisinger leverages an estimated $12.7 billion positive annual impact on the Pennsylvania and New Jersey economies. Repeatedly recognized nationally for integration, quality and service, Geisinger has a long-standing commitment to patient care, medical education, research and community service. For more information, visit www.geisinger.org, or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.
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