Tuesday, May 1, 2007

To be perfectly clear

I am sorry that this needs to be posted. However, at the risk of litigation I need to make some things crystal clear on my blog.

  1. I am not privy to a certain company in SF who does DTC genetic testing's business model
  2. I cannot affirm that said company makes a profit by marking up test costs, nor that they do mark up test costs. Said company very well may not do these things.
  3. I do have access to some other lab models which do mark up test costs
  4. I am certain that businesses which offer genetic tests make a significant amount of money testing and make very little to nothing from NOT testing.
  5. To survive as a business you must make money.

In a world where everyone must make some money to survive. I'll take the company who has pledged to do what's right not what makes a profit.

Testing is confusing and you need someone who will protect YOUR interest, not push their new test. I just don't see how any company can protect the patient when it is not in their financial interest. As a physician, protecting the patient should ALWAYS be in my interest.

Everyday when I see my patients, it most undoubtedly is..... Thanks for reading.

Take Care



kipp said...


As you can tell from my email address, I am an employee of DNA Direct. We are a small company, so my role here is varied. I am officially the web master/developer but I also frequently answer the phone and assist customers.

Due to our small size and varied backgrounds, all of the staff at DNA Direct participates in defining and evaluating business practices. Each of us approach this responsibility from the perspective of what we would want for our own medical care and from an honest interest in making healthcare more effective for everyone.

Had you taken the time to read the content on our site concerning our standards and guidelines, you would know, for instance, that we do not markup the price we are charged by the laboratory for its testing services and we use only CLIA certified labs.

Because we do not profit from the cost of the lab tests, we have every incentive to negotiate the lowest rates for these lab services in order to minimize the price-point of our tests. This is just one example where the interest in profit leads to increased benefit and value for our customers.

This interest in profit and revenue is not confined to DTC genetic testing businesses: Doctors in private practice as well as large medical centers must also make money to survive - and both also "make very little to nothing" from not offering medical care. But one of the remarkable things about accurate, ethical and high-quality medical service is that it can also be profitable for its providers.

And what matters more to all medical service providers than the revenue from individual tests is the value of a good reputation acquired by satisfying patients by the accuracy and quality of our care. The value of that reputation, which is partly also my reputation, is what motivated me to respond to your blogpost.

You impugn the reputation of our company in a blogpost that freely acknowledges that you did not attempt an even cursory search for information about our pricing policy (by typing "pricing policy" in our site-wide search box for instance). What is the value in that?

Steve Murphy MD said...

Welcome to the Gene Sherpa where my goal is to educate the lay public about the current role of genetic testing in healthcare. I take the majority guidance directly from the professional organizations in each medical specialty including genetics.

When I realized that perhaps what was posted could be misconstrued I immediately posted "To be prefectly clear".

I have read the website FULLY. That being said, what is represented on your site may very well not be the truth. Therefore I am not your employee and privvy to your business model.

Malcom X said "if you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything" I agree with this. I applaud you for standing for greater patient empowerment.
Empowerment does not mean the self practice of medicine. True a patient may take a pregnancy test at home or even and HIV test.

Unfortunately genetics testing is not the same it is much more complex and requires detailed interpretation not a yes or no answer.

Your statement that profit is important in healthcare is somewhat true. However it is naive. Medical corporations and practices are governed by laws far different from a corporation.

Moreover ONLY PHYSICIANS can be owners of a medical practice. Why? Because it takes 4 years of medical school and at a minimum 3 years of residency to be able to practice medicine.

As for reputation, it is earned, not created falsely by advertisement. Quite often this reputation is reflected by ones peers. Whom judges your DTC company? Who are your peers?

Lastly, medicine is a profession that is policed by its own. Who regulates DNADirect? Its own employees........

Unless you are a physician please do not speak for them, just ss I have indicated in this post that I do not speak for a DTC company.

I wish you all the best for you business venture.

Steven A.R. Murphy MD
Clinical Genetic Fellow Yale '10
Chief Resident Internal Medicine
Yale New Haven Health/Greenwich Hospital

My posts are my own and not the reflection of my employer.

Steve Murphy MD said...

Physicians cannot refuse to offer certain care because of inability to pay. It is also illegal. I am sorry to continue this but I will not stand for physicians or the practice of medicine to be compared with any DTC genetic testing company.
Take Care