Journal of Genetic Counseling

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 657–668 | Cite as

Development of a Streamlined Work Flow for Handling Patients’ Genetic Testing Insurance Authorizations

  • Wendy R. UhlmannEmail author
  • Katie Schwalm
  • Victoria M. Raymond
Professional Issue


Obtaining genetic testing insurance authorizations for patients is a complex, time-involved process often requiring genetic counselor (GC) and physician involvement. In an effort to mitigate this complexity and meet the increasing number of genetic testing insurance authorization requests, GCs formed a novel partnership with an industrial engineer (IE) and a patient services associate (PSA) to develop a streamlined work flow. Eight genetics clinics and five specialty clinics at the University of Michigan were surveyed to obtain benchmarking data. Tasks needed for genetic testing insurance authorization were outlined and time-saving work flow changes were introduced including 1) creation of an Excel password-protected shared database between GCs and PSAs, used for initiating insurance authorization requests, tracking and follow-up 2) instituting the PSAs sending GCs a pre-clinic email noting each patients’ genetic testing insurance coverage 3) inclusion of test medical necessity documentation in the clinic visit summary note instead of writing a separate insurance letter and 4) PSAs development of a manual with insurance providers and genetic testing laboratories information. These work flow changes made it more efficient to request and track genetic testing insurance authorizations for patients, enhanced GCs and PSAs communication, and reduced tasks done by clinicians.


Genetic testing Genetic counselors Insurance authorization Insurance issues Lean evaluation Patient services associates Industrial engineer 



We would like to thank the clinics that completed the surveys and follow-up interviews. In addition, we would like to thank Tammy Ellies, MBA (Senior Industrial Engineer and Lean Coach), Debra Grzeskowiak (Patient Services Associate), Demetria Bronaugh (Patient Services Associate) for their work in our lean evaluation, Beth Lawless for identifying clinics that order high volumes of genetic tests, Lauren Hipp, MS, CGC for contributing improvements to the shared database and our genetic counselor colleagues in the Division of Molecular Medicine and Genetics for providing input as the work flows were instituted. We especially would like to acknowledge the leadership of the Department of Internal Medicine for initiating and funding our work with the Performance Improvement Team.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Wendy R. Uhlmann, Katie Schwalm and Victoria M. Raymond declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Treatment of Subjects

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all participants for being included in the study. No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.


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Copyright information

© National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wendy R. Uhlmann
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Katie Schwalm
    • 4
  • Victoria M. Raymond
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Division of Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Department of Internal MedicineUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of Human GeneticsUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in MedicineUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  4. 4.Department of Internal MedicineUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  5. 5.Trovagene Inc.San DiegoUSA

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