Tele-Genetic Counselors: Who are they and what do they do?

The Growth of Telemedicine
Tele-genetic counselors are board-certified, licensed healthcare professionals with graduate education and training in both genetics and counseling. Tele-genetic counselors talk to patients about results, coordinate testing with clinics and physicians, write and edit test reports, and more to enhance patient care. They may cover different realms of genetics, including but not limited to cancer, prenatal, and fertility. In sessions with patients, they discuss what results mean and what to do with them, taking into account family histories of disease and guiding next steps for reproductive and other healthcare management.

Telemedicine is revolutionizing how patients receive healthcare. As new technologies allow for HIPAA-compliant communication between providers and patients, more Americans are accessing services online than ever before. In fact, the USDA announced that it is investing $42.5 million in distance learning and telemedicine projects in 37 states and two U.S. territories. It is estimated these investments will benefit 5.4 million rural residents. Studies (like this one and this one) show patients had a high level of satisfaction with both in person and telephone-based genetic counseling.

Tele-Genetic Counseling at NxGen MDx
At NxGen MDx, telemedicine is not only a familiar concept but also foundational to the care we provide patients. NxGen MDx’s team of board-certified genetic counselors operates completely via telemedicine, counseling patients, communicating with healthcare providers, coordinating testing and more—without ever stepping foot in a doctor’s office.

Patients from clinics all over the country speak with NxGen MDx’s tele-genetic counselors. Working alongside physicians, tele-genetic counselors explain genetic test results without patients needing to make another trip back to the doctor’s office.

Sources
Drees, J. (2019, November 21). USDA to invest $42.5M in telemedicine initiatives. In Becker’s Hospital Review. Retrieved from https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/telehealth/usda-to-invest-42-5m-in-telemedicine-initiatives.html

Peshkin, B. N., Kelly, S., Nusbaum, R. H., Similuk, M., DeMarco, T. A., Hooker, G. W., … Schwartz, M. D. (2015, October 12). Patient Perceptions of Telephone vs. In‐Person BRCA1/BRCA2 Genetic Counseling. Journal of Genetic Counseling, 25(3), 472-482. doi:10.1007/s10897-015-9897-6

Biesecker, B. B., Lewis, K. L., Umstead, K. L., Johnston, J. J., Turbitt, E., Fishler, K. P., … Biesecker, L. G. (2018, March). Web Platform vs In-Person Genetic Counselor for Return of Carrier Results From Exome Sequencing: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Internal Medicine, 178(3), 338-346. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.8049