YORK, Pa. December 7, 2022 – WellSpan Health and Helix, the nation’s leading population genomics and viral surveillance company, announced today a partnership to create a comprehensive population genomics program designed to improve patient healthcare outcomes by integrating genetic insights into clinical care and research.
A DNA sample will be collected from research participants through a one-time sample collection to generate genomic data. Once collected, the results from their sample will be integrated into the participant’s electronic medical record (EMR), providing them and their physicians valuable insights into their personal health.
Led by C. Anwar A. Chahal, MD, PhD, Director of the Center for Inherited Cardiovascular Diseases, and David Kann, MD, MPH, Precision Medicine Medical Director, this new program aligns with WellSpan’s vision to reimagine healthcare and serve as a trusted partner to our patients and communities.
“We believe that understanding what makes each of our patients unique is key to providing the most personalized experiences and the best outcomes possible. Our partnership with Helix will allow us to take a significant step toward making this promise a reality by offering participating patients care and treatment options specific to their genetic data,” said Dr. Anthony Aquilina, Executive Vice President and Chief Physician Officer of WellSpan Health.
Additionally, the aggregated clinico-genomic dataset, which removes any information that may directly identify an individual, from consenting participants may help WellSpan better understand the health of its overall population and assist researchers to learn the root causes of certain diseases and the most effective treatments for them.
Participants will have firsthand access to their personal genetic data which can help providers initially determine a patient’s risk for serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and certain cancers including breast and colorectal cancers.
“Helix’s partnership with WellSpan Health will provide approximately 2,600 physicians and clinicians and their participating patients access to critical information that will help uncover genetic risk more efficiently at the point-of-care to improve health outcomes,” said Helix CEO and cofounder James Lu, MD, PhD. “Population genomics will transform health care delivery and outcomes, and Helix and WellSpan are leading the way into a future of more personalized medicine for all.”
The genetic reports made available by this program may allow patients and their health providers to develop precision health care plans to proactively mitigate serious health risk conditions and take a more preventative and individualized approach to their care.
Powered by one of the largest CLIA/CAP sequencing labs in the world, Helix enables the production of high-quality data at population scale using its proprietary Exome+® assay, which looks at protein-coding regions of genomes to efficiently identify coding variants across a broad range of applications, including population genetics, genetic diseases and cancer studies. Helix uses industry best practices in data security to avoid any misuse of stored information.
Helix is also the first and only clinical laboratory to receive FDA de novo authorization for a whole exome sequencing platform.
WellSpan will leverage Helix’s genomic platform and unique Sequence Once, Query Often™ model. This allows the opportunity to run future tests that provide new and ongoing health insights without the need to collect additional genetic samples from each patient. In addition to clinically actionable disease screening, Helix will also be providing population genomics support including recruitment and engagement, return of results, and basic and translational research.
WellSpan joins Helix’s leading group of partner health systems that span over 30,000 medical professionals and nearly 500,000 patient participants across the United States. These programs have already found that 1 in 75 participants received a positive result for a serious actionable genetic condition, of which 90 percent would not have been discovered through traditional practice.
Participation in this soon-to-be named research program at WellSpan will be completely optional, at no cost to the participant. Details on how to request participation in the program will be provided in early 2023, prior to the official launch of the program.
About WellSpan Health
WellSpan Health’s vision is to reimagine healthcare through the delivery of comprehensive, equitable health and wellness solutions throughout our continuum of care. As an integrated delivery system focused on leading in value-based care, we encompass nearly 1,900 employed providers, 220 locations, eight award-winning hospitals, home care and a behavioral health organization serving South Central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. With a team 20,000 strong, WellSpan experts provide a range of services, from wellness and employer services solutions to advanced care for complex medical and behavioral conditions. Our clinically integrated network of 2,600 aligned physicians and advanced practice providers are dedicated to providing the highest quality and safety, inspiring our patients and communities to be their healthiest. For more information, visit www.wellspan.org.
Helix is the leading population genomics and viral surveillance company operating at the intersection of clinical care, research, and data analytics. Through its CLIA/CAP laboratory, its end-to-end workflow, and data analytics platforms, Helix enables health systems, public health organizations and life sciences companies to accelerate the integration of genomic data into patient care and public health decision making. Learn more at www.helix.com.