Physicians increasingly rely on genetic tests to help decide how to treat patients. As more physicians order these tests, costs rise and interpreting tests becomes more complex. To help manage that work, many organizations have created teams of genetic counselors who can help decide which patients need testing, choose the most cost-effective test, and interpret the results of those tests.
At Sanford Health, genetic counselors reviewed genetic test orders for the breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 to ensure that patients received the most appropriate tests based on their family history. In Sanford’s pilot study, collaboration between physicians, patients, and genetic counselors led to order modifications or cancellations in six out of eight cases. Including genetic counselors in the ordering workflow helped ensure that patients received the most clinically appropriate and cost-effective tests.
In a similar initiative at Seattle Children’s Hospital, genetic counselors reviewed more than 3,000 orders for inpatient and ambulatory genetic tests to make sure patients received the most effective tests. The counselors’ review led to a 32% modification rate to more appropriate orders, which helped reduce risk for patient harm and saved the organization an average of $205,000 per year. And at a yearlong study at HealthPartners’ Regions Hospital, genetic counselors modified 13.5% of tests, saving $263,000.
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