For more than a decade, a robust body of evidence has progressively unveiled drug-genome interactions with important implications for health. Yet doctors and many health-care systems have been slow to implement pharmacogenomic (PGx) testing—even as millions of Americans have undergone consumer genetic testing in an attempt to better understand their own health. Despite this reluctance from health-care providers, 2018 may go down in history as the year that PGx entered the mainstream. More than 40 health-care organizations have now implemented Clinical Pharmacogenetics Implementation Consortium (CPIC) guidelines. The clinical community finally recognizes the value of PGx, and health-care systems are working to find efficient, effective means of implementing PGx testing to improve patient outcomes.
PGx Testing in Clinical Settings
As public interest in PGx testing reaches a frenetic pitch, it’s incumbent on health-care organizations to get ahead of the curve. Research consistently finds that most patients carry at least one variant that can affect medication response. One study, for example, found that 97 percent of tested subjects carried at least one actionable high-risk variant.
PGx testing may also improve workplace outcomes. Suboptimal medication prescription erodes productivity and can lead to more missed days of work. Depression costs employers $51 billion in absenteeism annually. Yet many depressed workers do not receive adequate, effective treatment. A 2018 study found significantly higher response and remission rates in depressed patients who underwent PGx testing. As researchers identify more clinically significant markers, PGx may become a driving force in slashing depression rates. This could mean less money lost to disability, greater productivity, higher quality of life, and significantly reduced health-care expenses for employers and consumers alike.
The potential benefits of PGx are myriad, and difficult to quantify. Health-care providers who lead the charge on implementation stand to make more money, improve patient outcomes, and bolster their own reputations.
Areas of Progress for PGx Adoption and Implementation
Organizations are increasingly launching programs and investing in PGx education geared specifically toward health-care providers. CPIC and other organizations continue to publish new guidelines, bringing the total number of drug-gene pairs suitable for implementation to more than 100. The FDA has approved labels noting drug-genome interactions for hundreds of medications.
PGx implementation programs can ensure that health-care systems offer actionable, quality, evidence-based PGx testing. As is the case for many new programs, integrating PGx testing into the massive bureaucracy of a large health-care system can prove challenging. Information technology makes the process easier, streamlining genetic data into the workflows and systems clinicians already use.
Technologies from third-party vendors make it easier to launch and maintain and scale PGx programs. Clinicians do not have to become pharmacogenomic experts and healthcare organizations do not need to become software creators. Rathey, they can ensure efficient delivery of genomic-based clinical services to their patients. The expertise of third-party vendors can implement a PGx program in just a few days, with little training and limited overhead.
PGx testing is more than just a trend. It’s the future of therapy management. Not all PGx testing platforms are of equal quality, however. As PGx testing becomes the norm, systems that lean on reliable, high-quality, actionable evidence will lead the way.. TSI can help set your PGx program apart with a wealth of useful data. Our experts contribute to the PGx knowledge, setting the standards that other agencies follow. Contact us to learn more.