Understanding Disparities in Access to Genomic Medicine: A Workshop

When: June 27, 2018 (8:30 AM Eastern)
Where: Keck Center (100) • 500 Fifth St. NW, Washington, DC 20001

Topics Biomedical and Health Research, Public Health
Activity: Roundtable on Genomics and Precision Health
Board: Board on Health Sciences Policy

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 hosted a public workshop to examine the gaps in knowledge related to access to genomic medicine and discussed health care disparities and possible approaches to overcoming differential use of genomic medicine across populations. Workshop topics included 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 convened diverse stakeholders to present their perspectives and participate in workshop discussions.


On June 21, 2018, the Roundtable on Genomics and Precision Health held a Twitter chat on understanding disparities in access to genomic medicine. For more information, please visit the web page.

Previous Meetings for this Activity

Also of Interest