Understanding Disparities in Access to Genomic Medicine: A Workshop
Genomic medicine has the potential to improve the quality of health care by allowing practitioners to individually tailor prevention and treatment strategies to each of their patients. Recent research breakthroughs, technological advances, and the decreasing cost of DNA sequencing have led to wider adoption of genomic medicine. However, it is not clear if genetic/genomic services will reach all segments of the population both now and in the near future, and there remains a significant gap in knowledge regarding potential health care disparities that pertain to genomic medicine and precision health approaches.
Some of the major barriers to the utilization of genetic testing and corresponding downstream care are the potential for high out-of-pocket costs to patients and the lack of experience in the primary care setting for ordering genetic tests. Further exploration into how public and private payers design health insurance benefits and make decisions regarding reimbursement of genetic testing and counseling will be critical to understanding disparities in access to genomic medicine. In order to realize the benefits of genomic medicine and avoid worsening health disparities, genetic/genomic services will need to be accessible and operational in all primary care settings, including clinics that are under-resourced and serve diverse patient populations. Solutions to this challenge may involve strengthening relationships between primary care providers and genetics specialists, providing better access to reliable educational materials at the point-of-care, and developing continuing education programs for primary care providers that emphasize genomic medicine.
On June 27, 2018, the Roundtable on Genomics and Precision Health will host a public workshop to examine the gaps in knowledge related to access to genomic medicine and discuss health care disparities and possible approaches to overcoming differential use of genomic medicine across populations. Workshop topics may include research on access to genetics and genomics services in medically underserved areas, model programs of care for diverse patient populations, and current challenges and possible best practices for alleviating health care disparities as they relate to genomics-based approaches. The workshop will convene diverse stakeholders, which may include community/public health researchers, clinicians, users of health care systems, payers, bioethicists, and policy makers to present their perspectives and participate in workshop discussions.