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Cancer Care

How Telehealth is Changing the Landscape of Genetic Testing

Andrew McCarty, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor and Founder of Clover Genetics

Genetic testing can be daunting. There’s a lot of information out there and it can be a formidable challenge to navigate the process alone however with promising insights into cancer genetics it can have significant impacts on treatment and outcome. Thankfully genetic counseling, which provides guidance throughout this process, has become standard of care. Unfortunately in many places there is less than 1 genetic counselor per 100,000 people. Meaning for  those who live far from major medical centers, access to these resources are limited. Many times this may mean patients may not have access to the necessary services to answer questions like: What will this mean for my treatment? What about my kids or grandkids? How will I afford the testing? If a healthcare provider does not have appropriate training in genetics this can lead to not seeking testing, selecting the wrong test, or drawing the wrong conclusion from a result. 

A silver lining to the current pandemic however has been that many local and state governments as well as insurance companies have modified their policies to improve access to telehealth services. This has lead to improved reimbursement, access to these necessary services and a surge in providers offering telehealth services. Genetics has been no different. With both small practices and large health systems now utilizing these types of services patients can now access genetic counselors at a far greater volume from home than ever before while still having access to the quality expertise needed to make decisions about genetic testing and the possible treatments, many of which may not be available without the necessary testing to facilitate them. 

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