Telegenetics- Optimizing Genetic Services with Communication

Genetic testing is a valuable source of information that allows patients to access their own genetic code and to pioneer their means of healthcare. Various communities have difficulty accessing genetic testing services due to transportation, financial, and/or communication conflicts. With the growing importance of genetic services, and inability of many to access them, genetics via the internet (ie telegenetics) is meeting an ever present need. Telegenetics is a relatively new technology that provides genetic services remotely, including direct one-on-one video chats, phone calls, and even meetings via email with genetic counselors.1
Genetic services are typically concentrated in metropolitan areas; while other populations in more rural areas lack widespread access. For instance, in rural Georgia there are only three clinical geneticists to serve a population of 10 million as compared to California, population of 39 million, with 660 geneticists.2-4 Without access to these services, underserved populations are less able to gain information about possible disease-causing genes in their DNA. Knowing about genetic diseases allows patients and their families to implement preventative measures early-on, establish support systems, and clarify financial obligations.5 Therefore, telegenetic services are a useful resource when a patient needs access to genetic services, but lacks physical proximity to such services.
The telegenetic service process is similar to the clinical genetic testing process. The patient participates in a pre-test session with a genetic counselor, either in person, if possible, or via video conference, to discuss family health history and testing options. If the patient wishes to participate in genetic testing, they visit a designated local site to give a blood or saliva sample. Genetic counselors then contact the patient through one-on-one video chat to discuss test results and further care options, if necessary. This enables the patient to make informed, responsible decisions about their own healthcare no matter their location.
Telegenetics provides affordable and convenient genetic information for people who may not have access to these services otherwise.6 Telegenetic services are increasing in availability throughout the country - contact your local healthcare provider for more information about telegenetic services near you.
To help better understand telegenetics services, UNM Health Sciences Center created a useful infographic.
1 "Incorporating Genetic Counselors in Your Practice." National Society of Genetic Counselors. Accessed July 30, 2018.
2 Maron, Dina Fine. "Virtual Doctor Visits Gaining Steam in ‘Geneticist Deserts’." Scientific American. April 21, 2014. Accessed July 30, 2018.
3 "Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2016." U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. March 31, 2017. Accessed August 01, 2018.
4 "California Population 2018." China Population 2018 (Demographics, Maps, Graphs). March 14, 2018. Accessed August 01, 2018.
5 "What Are the Benefits of Genetic Testing? - Genetics Home Reference - NIH." U.S. National Library of Medicine. July 31, 2018. Accessed August 01, 2018.
6 Buchanan, Adam H., et al. "Randomized Trial of Telegenetics vs. In-Person Cancer Genetic Counseling: Cost, Patient Satisfaction and Attendance." Journal of Genetic Counseling 24, no. 6 (December 24, 2015): 961-70. Accessed August 1, 2018. doi:10.1007/s10897-015-9836-6.