Reproductive genetic testing is a growing area for providers and health plans. Almost 60% of genetic test authorization requests are related to reproductive genetic testing. With such high volumes, providers can struggle to ensure that patients have access to genetics expertise when making their decisions or interpreting the results of these tests.
Before the pandemic, telemedicine in the reproductive space was underutilized. Clinics were hit hard, with a decrease in patient load noted by many professionals in the reproductive field. Our research showed reproductive testing requests dropped 15% in some areas as a result of COVID-19. When patients are not able to visit their doctor, telemedicine becomes even more important to maintain access for patients in the delicate window of time for reproductive genetic testing.
With many providers transitioning to telehealth to meet the needs of their patients, OBGYNs and MFMs may now feel more comfortable referring patients for telegenetic counseling. While many genetics providers are only now exploring telegenetic counseling, this is where InformedDNA began more than 13 years ago, with a long history of success.
In this blog article, we outline the logistics of how telegenetic counseling can help you and your patients in your reproductive health practice.
Why would telegenetic counseling services benefit an MFM provider?
Reproductive health practices have many appointments and ad-hoc patients throughout the day with higher volumes compared to other areas of medicine. All the while, non-invasive prenatal testing, carrier screening, and prenatal diagnostic testing are increasing in complexity. The demands of a large patient load with increased industry pressures mean that many MFM offices may struggle to have the correct volume of genetics staffing. By offering telegenetic counseling by board-certified reproductive genetics specialists, a provider can maintain oversight of the patient’s care while accommodating a need for specialty services with little to no disruption to clinic flow and without the cost of staffing in-house.
How do we assure there’s genetic counseling available for patients with an indication identified in real-time?
In many reproductive medicine encounters, providers and patients may discover unexpected information warranting genetic counseling. This sudden shift in appointment focus can be stressful and emotional for patients. MFMs should be in a position to provide instant information and a referral to a genetic counseling service that is speedy and has a reputation of high client satisfaction. In these situations, MFMs want to feel supported by a referral process for precision expertise.
Continuity of care and retained stewardship of the patient are very important to patients, especially in reproductive medicine. We believe it is vital to deliver genetic counseling as a seamless integration in your MFM practice. Because of this, InformedDNA has created easy workflows.
Genetic Counseling Workflow for MFM patients: How does it work?
Our workflow provides easy and flexible scheduling and telephone sessions in the provider’s office or with the patient at home.
Here’s how it works when a provider identifies a patient who needs genetic counseling and testing services:
Scenario 1: MFM administered services needed and genetic counseling occurs prior to MFM office visit
Example: A patient is referred for an aneuploidy risk assessment, testing discussion and a detailed ultrasound. Genetic counseling can occur prior to the MFM office visit.
- GC service accommodates appointment via phone with the patient at home allowing for quick, flexible scheduling (day, evening, and weekend options available)
- GC completes appointment and documentation before the MFM office visit date so MFM has all relevant information prior to the patient visit.
Scenario 2: No MFM administered services/procedures needed and genetic counseling occurs at MFM office
Example: The patient is referred for a genetic counseling indication only, such as family history of a genetic condition. The genetic counseling can occur at the MFM office, via telemedicine.
- GC service provides appointment via phone with patient at the MFM office to accommodate continuity/ownership of the OBGYN/MFM referral relationship
- GC service provides real-time documentation to allow for blood draw, etc., while the patient is in the MFM office.
What does a Genetic Counseling appointment entail?
During the appointment, a board-certified genetic counselor will:
- Review the patient’s personal, pregnancy, and family history and explain the risk of having a child with a genetic condition.
- Discuss the benefits and risks of tests done before, during, or after pregnancy
- Facilitate appropriate genetic tests
- Interpret genetic test results and explain what they mean for the patient and family
- Provide information, support, and discuss available options when a high-risk and/or genetic condition is identified.
- Provide resources and referrals for additional services or support
- Ensure communication with the MFM provider throughout the process, including delivering a detailed summary and recommendations based on results.
Can InformedDNA accommodate the volume of my practice?
Yes, we have the largest and most experienced team of board-certified, lab-independent staff of genetics specialists in the country and our genetic counselors facilitated sessions for more than 15,000 patients in 2019. Our reproductive genetic counseling team allows for coverage of the needs of your practice; including genetic counseling state licensure needs and fluctuating volumes.
How soon can genetic counseling occur?
- Expedited appointment requests are available, offering patients an appointment within 1-4 business days
- Providers can also request genetic counseling to be completed prior to a specific date (e.g. date of an upcoming MFM appointment).
- For non-urgent cases, patients are offered an appointment within 7-10 business days at the most.
How do patients and providers respond to this genetic counseling process?
We proudly report a >95% patient satisfaction with genetic counseling services and referral processes.
Has InformedDNA strategically evaluated this service model?
Yes, InformedDNA’s strategic review of services for MFM patients demonstrates:
- High patient and provider satisfaction ratings (4.8 out of 5)
- Access to genetic counseling services for a wide range of indications such as ultrasound findings (38%)
- Flexible and timely scheduling including an average of one day or less between referral and patient contact
InformedDNA leverages the expertise of the largest, most experienced, full-time staff of lab-independent, board-certified genetics specialists in the U.S. to help ensure that health plans, health systems, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, clinicians and patients all have access to the highest quality genetics services.
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