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The Business Case for Investing in Genomics – 4 Key Takeaways

As health systems work towards providing more targeted, personalized care to patients, it is crucial that identified solutions not only enhance the patient experience but also increase provider satisfaction, reduce overall healthcare costs and improve population health. The promise of genomic-led medicine is exciting but it is critical that we understand where and how it can drive value. The Health Management Academy brought together leaders from Illumina, CancerIQ, Genome Medical and Helix to share how they are working with health systems to accelerate the adoption of genomics medicine and where their health system partners have seen returns on investment from implementing genetic programs.

Here are our key takeaways from the conversation:

  1. There are clear paths to returns on investment (ROI) in genomics for fee-for-service systems, value based care systems and those transitioning between the two. The drivers of ROI for fee-for-service patients come through new patient acquisition, direct clinical revenues from medically necessary procedures and in-system patient referrals. In a value based care world, clear savings come in the form of total cost of care from early disease detection and prevention, as well as savings from treatment optimizations like pharmacogenomics (PGx).
  2. Oncology isn’t the only clinical service line that can benefit from genomics. The use of genomics in oncology lines is already improving patient outcomes and driving the growth of the service line. But in order to realize the vast benefits of genomics for patients, expansion to other service lines and into primary care is critical.Pharmacogenomics, the study of how a person’s genes affect how they respond to medications, in particular, is an area that has clear financial return now. Not incorporating PGx is expensive to health systems, with evidence showing that readmissions can be reduced with appropriate medication selection and optimization. The challenge, across service lines, is implementation. Health systems need to employ sustainable solutions that are light-touch for staff, provide excellent patient experiences and that scale as our ability to use genomic medicine increases.
  3. In competitive markets, genomic programs can be a strategic differentiator to attract and retain patients. Consumerism has brought the challenges of attracting and retaining patients to the forefront for health systems. Health systems are using strategic initiatives, like genomics programs as a competitive differentiator and also to create loyalty. It is likely that someone will introduce a broad-scale genomics program to your market whether you do or don’t, and it’s becoming more likely that patients will demand it themselves.
  4. A genomics program should reduce health equity gaps, not increase them. Advances in genomics have been made largely on genomes of European ancestry, and we need to fix that. There is a need to invest in areas where we don’t see enough representation. Helix CEO, James Lu, MD, PhD, shared that there are three key action areas: 1) Ensuring any research truly represents the diversity of the community that a system exists in, 2) Ensuring the clinical results returned are accurate for that individual, regardless of their ancestry, and 3) Broadening access by actively reaching out to underserved populations or populations who have been historically excluded and delivering programs at no-cost to participants.

The discussion concluded with a call to action for health systems. Genomics is now at an inflection point for large-scale adoptions – over the past 5 years, we have seen considerable increase in the size and number of enterprise-wide genomics programs being undertaken across the country. Although there will be a considerable amount of change management needed within health systems, the panelists all encouraged leaders to embrace it because the promise of providing more personalized and effective care is an exciting challenge for all.

Helix is embracing this challenge and working closely with health systems to remove barriers to implementation. Get in touch with our team to learn more about how a population genomics program with Helix can improve care, reduce costs and drive innovation at your organization.