“Genetic counseling is essential to the communication of results, and by doing it in an efficient way, the barrier of cost is a thing of the past.”
I attended my first National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) Annual Education Conference (AEC) in 2008 when I was still a genetic counseling student. I remember feeling overwhelmed, but also excited by all of the speakers, exhibitors and meetings. Nine years later, the AEC still causes me to feel a whirlwind of excitement for our field at how far we have come while still feeling overwhelmed by how far we have to go.
Over the years I have presented posters, chaired subcommittees, and helped plan educational breakout sessions. This year, I am presenting another scientific poster of which I am particularly proud. This kind of innovative research can help move genetic counselors forward, closing the distance between where we are now and where we need to be.
The poster being presented is: Software solutions increase efficiency of genetic counseling for hereditary cancer.
Through the integration of various technology applications, the genetic counselors who provide clinical care for Color Genomics have dramatically decreased the amount of time conducting non-direct patient care activities, thus increasing the proportion of time spent on direct patient care without compromising patient satisfaction.
Previous analyses of time-based effort have determined that clinical genetic services are time consuming and labor-intensive, with as little as 25%-41% of a genetic counselor’s time spent on direct patient care and up to 3.5 to 7 total hours spent per patient.
Selected genetic counselors at Color tracked time spent providing direct patient care and conducting non-direct patient care activities to provide over 400 post-test telephone genetic counseling sessions for clients who received a 19-gene panel for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.
- Over 50% of the time a Color GC spent on a patient was providing direct patient care and the average total time spent per patient was 40 minutes. Surveys were conducted to assess comprehension and satisfaction with genetic counseling.
- There was a high degree of comprehension and satisfaction among respondents.
- Custom software tools have been implemented to create these time savings including: online health history collection and pedigree creation, online scheduling and rescheduling, and templatized summary notes.
- Broader implementation of similar software tools for all genetic counselors providing clinical care may improve efficiency and time available for both direct and non-direct patient care.
The genetic counseling included in the cost of the Color Test is essential to the communication of results, and by doing it in an efficient way, the barrier of cost is a thing of the past.
Broader implementation of more cutting-edge software tools can make so many more things easier in the future, like collecting family history and documenting genetic counseling sessions, improving care for everyone involved. Increased access to high quality genetic testing can be achieved in a responsible, thoughtful way.