Genetic testing is an incredible tool that can tell patients a lot about the likelihood that they may develop specific diseases. But how do results translate from the page into the patient’s life? What considerations, precautions, actions do they take after the results come back? When genetic testing facilities hand off results without follow-up—or even an explanation of what they mean—patients can be left feeling scared and helpless.
What if genetic testing facilities gave their patients the tools to turn that brick wall of data into a brick road, with counselors to help patients along the way? Instead of leaving patients panicked and unsure of what to do, clinics could hand out a map for next steps, so each patient can feel supported as he or she moves forward.
The process would start with advice from a genetic counselor, who could walk patients through exactly what their results mean, what they should talk to their doctors about, and what treatments they may need. When questions come up about, say, financial issues, a billing specialist would be available to explain billing and payment plans. And as patients look even further down the road, those same genetic counselors would offer patients tools to help them share their results with their families, and to understand what their results may mean for the next generation.