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4 common objections to genomic medicine

Genomic medicine has its skeptics. Unfortunately, many doubts are based on misconceptions about the field. Here are some of the objections I have heard recently, along with evidence to overcome them:

  1. It’s too expensive for organizations and the consumers Cost is a real and legitimate concern in healthcare today. But a pharmacogenomic panel, for example, costs the same amount as a routine chem panel or lipid profile. We might do those tests annually and don’t think twice, but a pharmacogenomic panel only needs to be done once and is valid for the patient’s lifetime.
  2. Test results won’t change clinical decisions. The argument here is that clinicians already have information at their fingertips that helps them treat patients effectively. But physicians are taught to classify disease, and throughout the history of medicine, we’ve adopted tools that help us do that better. We based decisions on what we could observe with the naked eye. Then we added what we could learn from microscopes, then chemistry, and now it’s genomics.
  3. Genetic counselors are the only ones who should handle this area of medicine. Yes, genetic counselors have an admirable expertise, but there simply aren’t enough of them to bring genomic medicine into the mainstream. Today’s primary care physicians used to treating complex diseases. We can be equipped with the right tools to apply genomic information at the point of care
  4. Family history provides the same information and is sufficient. Unfortunately, family histories aren’t always well known or documented. Even if they are, machine understanding can add a lot of value to this information. There are so many manifestations of an abnormal gene, and not all illnesses directly relate one gene to one disease. There is no feasible way for the human brain to associate disparate pieces of information from the family history into an actionable insight for clinical decisions.

Most of these objections can be refuted with one core principle: Knowledge is power. In the hands of physicians, knowledge can improve care decisions and plans. When I meet with healthcare providers to discuss the 2bPrecise clinical-genomic solution, many of these objections quickly evaporate. The promise and possibility of bringing genomic information to the point of care offers too many benefits to ignore.

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