The desire to know about our family history through DNA testing is more popular than ever. Last holiday season, genetic-testing kits broke sales records as one of the hottest selling gifts of 2018. However, there are more important reasons to understand our genetic make-up than simply learning about our ethnicities.
In 2016, Baylor College of Medicine’s Department of Molecular and Human Genetics in collaboration with Baylor Genetics debuted Consultagene, a web-based multimedia platform that provides educational resources, tele-genetic counseling, peer-to-peer consultation and genomic testing interpretation to clients. By combining educational resources in the form of videos and web-based resources with online scheduling for a virtual consultation, Consultagene aims to provide answers to genetic health concerns at a time and place that works best for the client.
Baylor’s Brendan Lee, M.D., Ph.D., the Robert and Janice McNair Endowed Chair of the Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, describes it this way: “Consultagene turns [genetic] information into medical action, increases clinical efficiency and improves the patient experience.” He goes on to say, “Consultagene is also a platform that can be generalized for other specialties in the future, providing this type of seamless experience for practices of all kinds to ultimately improve patient experience and satisfaction.”
Element Blue was selected as Baylor’s technology partner in this groundbreaking initiative, which is client-focused. The entire system is arranged for simplicity and ease of use, and guides clients through scheduling to identify a time for an online consultation that fits their schedules. Consultagene’s mobile and self-guided data collection process allows patients to take the time they need to gather their complete history in the comfort of their own homes.
The Consultagene platform focuses on four, highly interchangeable modules. These include:
- Client Engagement
- Video Education
- Health History and Pedigree
When a client has been referred for a specific genetic test, Consultagene guides the content and module mix that the client will receive. A patient record is established, and a consent for contact registry is completed for relevant research studies, new research developments or revised test results.
When the client begins the video education module, Consultagene directs the viewing of relevant, proprietary videos, which explain the details of the testing service to be received. Video topics include subjects such as, “What to expect in a clinical genetics evaluation?” “What is genetic testing and the meaning of positive carrier tests?” and “What is whole exome sequencing?”
Health History and Pedigree
This module assembles the family, health, medication and social history data into a personalized client pedigree and enables document transfer and sharing of medical records and test reports with the provider.
Consultagene prompts the client to schedule a telecounseling session to review the requested services and pedigree. The referring party engages with the client and provider to receive lab interpretations and accurately communicate results.
Depending upon the referring indication, Consultagene orders specific combinations of these four modules for the client to experience.
According to Lee, “Baylor Genetics generates the data, but there needs to be genetic services to interpret and counsel families so they can best utilize that data.” Consultagene provides these services.
The Department of Molecular and Human Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine has continued its accelerated growth and remains the No. 1 ranked genetics department in the country based on total National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and awarded grants for projects like Consultagene.