Geisinger to make DNA sequencing a part of routine clinical care

Understanding the genome warning signals of every patient will be an essential part of wellness planning and health management, says David Feinberg, MD.

Geisinger is expanding its population health genomics program beyond research and into routine clinical practice, effectively enabling the healthcare organization’s patients to be the first in the nation to have the sequencing of their DNA as part of standard care.

David Feinberg, MD, president and CEO of Geisinger, made the announcement on Sunday at the HLTH conference in Las Vegas.

“Understanding the genome warning signals of every patient will be an essential part of wellness planning and health management,” Feinberg told the audience at the conference. “Geisinger patients will be able to work with their family physician to modify their lifestyle and minimize risks that may be revealed. This forecasting will allow us to provide truly anticipatory healthcare instead of the responsive sick care that has long been the industry default across the nation.”

According to Feinberg, Geisinger will launch its clinical DNA sequencing initiative with a 1,000-patient pilot program over the next six months. Once the pilot is completed, the program will then be rolled out throughout its sites in Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey.

Geisinger’s MyCode Community Health Initiative—a precision medicine research effort launched in 2007 by the Danville, Penn.-based health system—will serve as the model for integrating genomics and data science into everyday preventive care at the provider organization.

The MyCode Community Health Initiative, which has enrolled more than 200,000 participants, has identified more than 500 patients who are at increased risk and has uncovered previously undetected cases of cancer and heart disease, enabling its physicians to treat them much earlier than they could have otherwise.

Also See: Geisinger taps EHR, genomics to identify high-risk patients

Geisinger claims to be the only health system in the country doing genomic medicine on a large-scale, population basis. The organization has partnered with Regeneron Genetics Center, a biopharmaceutical company in Tarrytown, N.Y., to generate clinical reports with testing results that are put into the electronic health record and are provided to patients who are then offered genetic counseling about their increased risk for early-onset cancer and cardiovascular disease.

“Sequencing the known functional parts of the genome for our patients is becoming a clinical reality, not just as a diagnostic test for patients who present with particular symptoms, but for all patients in the communities we serve,” said David Ledbetter, Geisinger’s executive vice president and chief scientific officer. “As we sequence the exomes of our patients and learn even more about particular genome variants and their impact on different health conditions, we predict that as many as 10 to 15 percent of our patients will benefit.”

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