Patients 'more confident in their medications after pharmacogenomics testing,' says NorthShore's Dr. Mark Dunnenberger

In this special Speaker Series, Becker's Healthcare caught up with Mark Dunnenberger, PharmD, director of pharmacogenomics at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Evanston, Ill.

Dr. Dunnenberger will speak on a panel during the Becker's Hospital Review 4th Annual Health IT + Revenue Cycle Conference titled "Advanced Primary Care: Making Genetic Medicine a Reality," at 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19. Learn more about the event and register to attend in Chicago.

Question: In the past 12 months, how have you adapted to new patient experience expectations in the age of consumerism?

Dr. Mark Dunnenberger: In March 2015, we started our novel pharmacogenomics clinic to meet the needs of our patients. Today, a growing number of patients are hearing about pharmacogenomics and want to learn more about it, but there are many misconceptions about the power of pharmacogenomics. To this end, one of the goals of NorthShore’s clinic and the pharmacogenomics program at large is to clearly explain the benefits, limitations, risks and cost of pharmacogenomics testing. This empowers the patient to make a personal value-based decision about whether to test. As the number of patients who have received pharmacogenomics testing grows, we are learning more about how patients want to interact with their results. In recent months, we have moved to a more electronic-based return of results instead of a paper-based return. Moving forward, we will continue to evaluate and implement more technology-based tools into our pharmacogenomics program to meet the needs of our patients.

Q: What is one thing you've learned about your patient population that's really surprised you? 

MD: One thing that has surprised me is that our patients are passionate about taking charge of their care and in utilizing their pharmacogenomics results when it comes to engaging with clinicians. Our recent study highlighted that more than 50 percent of patients were more confident in their medications after pharmacogenomics testing. Patients who are more confident in their treatments are more likely to have better outcomes. Pharmacogenomics offers a new data point for both patients and providers to use to better understand a patient’s experience with medications, and this is incredibly powerful.

Q: What is the most exciting thing happening in health IT right now? And what is the most overrated health IT trend? 

MD: In my opinion, the most exciting thing in health IT is the emerging trend of integrating genetic testing results into EHRs. This provides clinicians and patients alike with the benefits of genomic results, which ultimately means better health outcomes for all.

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