Physicians who use genetic testing in their practice can gain valuable insight and help patients make informed decisions about their health. But because genes and their impact on disease are complex, physicians might face some challenges when using genetic testing. Read on to learn more about these challenges and potential strategies to combat them.
Roadblocks to Successfully Implementing Genetic Testing
The way that genes impact our health is complicated, and the science isn’t yet exact. In the past few decades, our knowledge of genetics has expanded greatly, but we are still far from understanding everything. While genetics provides us with a wealth of knowledge about hereditary health conditions, it’s not something that every physician becomes an expert in during medical school.
Because of this, it may be tough for physicians to understand how to use genetic testing to its fullest potential. Genetic testing can be a sensitive topic for patients, doctors may be unaware of how to handle such a difficult topic. They may find themselves inadvertently pushing their own moral or personal values onto their patient.
If a physician implements genetic testing services in their practice, it’s of the utmost importance that they know how to properly interpret the data from the tests, or have other physicians to work with who can.
How to Tackle Challenges
When a physician offers these testing services, it’s their responsibility to become well-versed in the benefits of the genetic test they provide and work hard to keep their own biases in check. If they are unable to interpret the results of a genetic test but still want to offer this type of testing in the office, it’s important to partner with a lab that can help interpret the findings of these tests.
Patients need to understand why genetic testing may be helpful, and what it can help them to learn about their own health. Be sure to discuss what information you may find as a result of the test. For example, you may be testing for one condition, and find information about another potential genetic abnormality. Ask if they want to be informed of these findings, and what steps should be taken in the incident that you discover something else.
You should also discuss the implication of genetic testing on a person’s family and relatives. Their own genetic testing can reveal something about their entire family. You may want to discuss the circumstances in which a patient will need to tell their family about the findings and offer your help as a medical professional to communicate with their families.
Before you commit to genetic testing, get written consent from the patient for the specific test you’ll be performing. And as with any medical records and data, confidentiality is key. Take steps to protect the genetic information of your patients and their relatives.
At Tesis Lab, we understand that genetic testing is the future of medicine, and we strive to help patients get the most out of their genetic tests. If you’d like to learn more about the services we provide, contact us.