Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Aetna and Informed Decisions

Amazing today I have had to make the time for a second post. I received an email from Heather L. Shappell, M.S., CGC. She is the founder and COO of Informed Medical Decisions, Inc. The newsworthy event is that they have partnered with Aetna to delivery informed consent for genetic testing for cancer.

What is this company? Well......

From the site:
Informed was created to increase access to experts in cancer genetics for people at risk for hereditary cancer. Genetic counselors help people and their doctors make the most informed genetic testing, cancer screening, and cancer prevention decisions

This is precisely what they are now doing.
From the press release:

Aetna (NYSE: AET) today announced that effective immediately it will offer members confidential telephone and web-based cancer genetic counseling services as a component of health benefit plans which include coverage for genetic testing. The services will be offered through Informed Medical Decisions, a national genetic counseling company staffed with board-certified genetic counselors with expertise in cancer genetic counseling.

The GTO has also just put this on their post. I feel bad replicating data, but there are some people who may not get the GTO newsletter. If you don't, your missing out.

The Sherpa Says: Telegenetics has been around for a while. The Military has been using it and there are places such as Harvard which are trying out video genetics. It is a shame that their are too few people in the field. I think that Myriad is actually helping out physicians with this task. However, a word of caution. According to my research.....the more confident a non-genetics physician is at counseling, the less likely they are to do well on a genetics knowledge test. This is where Informed comes least for cancer counseling....To do more than that you need more
Although this sounds great it is too bad Aetna has one of the most retrictive testing policies for BRCA out there....


Anonymous said...

That is a very nice website. I'm very glad for the development of Informed Medical Decisions. When I get admitted into a genetic counseling program and graduate, I plan on developing an Internet company where I will offer pedigree analysis for only 25 dollars to anyone around the whole globe. I will offer to do home visits if the client wants a home visit instead. I can also do it by phone.

I will be looking for genetic diseases that are present in the family. If I notice a genetic disease running in the family, then I will refer them to their doctor and let the patient have a copy of the pedigree and I will mail a formal copy of the pedigree to their hospital so it can be put in their medical chart. I will emphasize when I work with the families that they need to keep me up to do for new diagnosis in the family.

I won't be doing this company all on my own. I will need to hire regional directors that will be in charge of certain areas and have the required background training.

It would be good to build a strong network between genetic companies. Why not all work together?

Steve Murphy MD said...

What you aim to do is noble and wonderful. What you bring up raises several points
1. Why charge so much?
Unfortunately it is expensive to provide these services. It would be me dream to have insurers pay more than 18 USD for the interpretation of a single genetic test. In addition, an hourly rate for healthcare providers would be appropriate. Eliminate the average 150.000 USD debt for a doctor and we might be able to work for 25 USD/hr. If a person would want analysis from someone other than a physician who has less debt or who operates with less costs, this might help.
2. Why not do the analysis and refer to a physician only when you discover disease risk?
The question is....what does run in a famiy mean. 1 relative? 2? It sounds like you may have to refer everyone to a physician....which would be appropriate in some instances
3. Can't we all just get along?
I would love to, Ijust don't want my readers being injured in any way by these other services. If I injure, they can sue me for malpractice. A healthcare contract is different than a corporate genomic contract.... If they would like to involve healthcare practitioners in the services which they provide. I would happily coordinate that care. Creating a new service set would be much better than competition for a narrow set of services.