The Pros and Cons of Genomics in Healthcare

The Benefits of Genomics

The use of genomics in health systems is becoming more of a standard practice. Health systems have been partnering with genomics databases to collect patient data.

One of the most striking potential benefits of genomics is the ability to provide personalized care for patients. This allows doctors to utilize precision medicine that matches the needs of their unique, individual patient. In addition to customized treatment plans, it can also aid in disease prevention.

Precision medicine can minimize the side effects patients experience, provide them a more effective therapy, and ensure they are given the correct diagnosis in the first place.

Genomics is also so important because it can help to combat the lack of diversity in clinical trials and research studies. When genomics is included for all patients, everyone will have the information they need about their body, their condition, and their healthcare options.

There are limits to what genomics can show, but anything that can provide doctors a more comprehensive view of a patient will help to ensure they receive the right care.

The Risks

Of course, there are also risks to genomics. Mostly, this surrounds privacy concerns if the data isn’t properly managed. During the collection and storage process, responsible decisions must be made to ensure patient privacy. Additionally, patients deserve transparent information about how their data will be utilized. It is only after they are fully educated on these uses that they can provide adequate consent.

After consent is received, this data can be included in the patient’s medical record. If the data is being used for a research study, it needs to be de-identified. There needs to be strict standards concerning security and privacy, and all data needs to be HIPAA compliant.

Researchers also explain the importance of genomic data being explained to patients in an approachable and descriptive way.

New Partnerships

Mayo Clinic has recently entered a genomic partnership with Helix. Their goal is to create a database with 100,000 patients. They will examine 11 different genes that are signals for diseases such as Lynch syndrome, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and familial hypercholesterolemia (FH).

Sanford and Northshore health systems partnered with a company called Color which utilizes a population health platform and next-generation sequencing technology. These organizations hope to change how people think about genomics. They ultimately believe that it should be used as a tool for all medical professionals. including those dealing with rare disease patients. Genomics can be to prevent and manage a wide array of health conditions. They believe that genetic information can lead to better, more accessible, and cost-effective care.

If genomic information becomes commonplace and is collected along with a patient’s family history and other health data, prevention, early diagnosis, and personalized care could all be improved.

One way to lead genomics forward is for current organizations working in the field to be transparent about their hurdles, lessons learned, and surprise challenges.

You can read more about these new partnerships here.

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