Sanford Health to offer genetic tests in primary care clinics

Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Sanford Health will soon offer a new type of laboratory test at its primary care clinics, according to The Bismarck Tribune.

Using a small blood sample, the tests will reveal a patient's genetic susceptibility for nearly 60 diseases and 30 drug-gene interactions.

The hospital is planning a "mid-year" rollout of the tests, which will cost $49 and will not be billed through insurance, in hopes patients will view the offering as an affordable way to enhance their care. Sanford wants the tests to become a routine practice at primary care clinics to help physicians guide more personalized treatment.

"Nobody else in the world is doing this," said Nate White, executive vice president of Sanford Health Fargo (N.D.), referring to the routine use of genetic screening in primary care clinics, according to The Bismarck Tribune. "What we're after is the primary care setting."

Some of the conditions screened for by the test —  which is based on guidance from the American College of Medical Genetics — include aortic aneurysms, hereditary breast and ovarian cancer; retinoblastoma; thyroid cancer; Wilms' tumor, a type of cancer that starts in the kidneys; Wilson disease, which causes copper to accumulate in the liver, brain and eyes; and Lynch syndrome, a hereditary form of colorectal cancer.

Sanford will securely store the genetic information to protect patient privacy, and the insights gleaned from the tests will only be used to inform care. Sanford will not share the data with health insurers — including its in-house payer Sanford Plan — to make decisions on premiums or coverage.

The new service will be offered as part of Sanford's Imagenetics program, an initiative backed by a $125 million donation from the hospital's namesake, Denny Sanford, in 2014. The genetic testing service will roll out in stages over the next couple of years, beginning by inviting patients who see a Sanford primary care provider and are enrolled in its MyChart patient portal.

More articles on data analytics & precision medicine:
Intermountain expands precision genomics DNA test to all providers
Clover Health leverages precision medicine for new in-home primary care program
NIH is seeking a chief data strategist

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