Geisinger to Offer DNA Sequencing to All Its Patients

Philadelphia Business Journal, May 7, 2018, 11:34am EDT
Pennsylvania-based Geisinger Health System is taking routine health screenings for patients beyond the typical mammograms, colonoscopies and cholesterol tests.

It will soon be adding DNA sequencing to its list of recommended preventative care measures for patients.

“Understanding the genome warning signals of every patient will be an essential part of wellness planning and health management,” said Dr. David T. Feinberg, Geisinger’s president and CEO. “Geisinger patients will be able to work with their family physician to modify their lifestyle and minimize risks that may be revealed. This forecasting will allow us to provide truly anticipatory health care instead of the responsive sick care that has long been the industry default across the nation.”

Feinberg announced the DNA sequencing initiative Sunday at the HLTH conference in Las Vegas.

Geisinger, based in Danville, Pa., serves more than 3 million residents throughout 45 counties in central, south-central and northeast Pennsylvania and in New Jersey. Overall, the physician-led health system employs nearly 1,600 physicians, provides care at 13 hospital campuses, and operates two research centers and a 583,000-member health plan. AtlantiCare in South Jersey became party of the Geisinger System in 2014.

Also in 2014, Geisinger started its MyCode Community Health Initiative as part of a research collaboration with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. The MyCode program has enrolled more than 200,000 patient-participants and is providing “medically relevant” results to participants and their primary care doctors. Since the program started, more than 500 MyCode participants have received clinical reports telling them that they have a genomic variant that increases their risk of early cancers or heart disease. The information has allowed their doctors to detect and treat these conditions before any clinical symptoms appear.

“Sequencing the known functional parts of the genome for our patients is becoming a clinical reality, not just as a diagnostic test for patients who present with particular symptoms, but for all patients in the communities we serve,” said David Ledbetter, Geisinger’s executive vice president and chief scientific officer. “As we sequence the exomes [part of the genome] of our patients and learn even more about particular genome variants and their impact on different health conditions, we predict that as many as 10 to 15 percent of our patients will benefit.”

Geisinger expects to begin its clinical DNA sequencing efforts with a 1,000-patient pilot program within the next six months.