Genetic Counseling for Personal Genomic Testing: Optimizing Client Uptake of Post-Test Telephonic Counseling Services
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The field of genetic counseling faces a broad challenge: many potential clients may not be aware of the value and benefit of genetic counseling services, and therefore may not utilize those services. Navigenics is a personal genomic testing company that provides telephonic genetic counseling services for multifactorial diseases and pharmacogenetics. When first offered in 2008, utilization of the Navigenics genetic counseling service was less than expected. To explore the basis for under-utilization and potential mechanisms for increasing uptake, Navigenics initiated a quality improvement study, in which three different methods of engaging clients in the uptake of genetic counseling services were assessed over the course of 1 year. Outcomes showed significant differences in uptake rates between methodologies (7.5%, 24.6%, and 60.1%), yielding an 8-fold increase in service utilization when post-test telephonic outreach to all clients was performed. Further, utilization spanned all risk levels based on client results, evidence that not only clients with high-risk results were motivated to engage in the genetic counseling service. This research indicates that implementing strategies to educate clients about genetic counseling can positively impact client engagement and utilization of available services.