Hospitals, Diagnostics

Through partnership with Color, 10K NorthShore patients will get whole genome sequencing

As part of a new initiative called DNA10K, more than 10,000 NorthShore patients will gain access to Color’s clinical-grade genetic testing and whole genome sequencing.

NorthShore University HealthSystem and Color, a Burlingame, California population genomics technology company, have partnered on an initiative that unites genomics and primary care. Dubbed DNA10K, it will give more than 10,000 NorthShore patients access to Color’s clinical-grade genetic testing and whole genome sequencing.

The Evanston, Illinois-based health system will be rolling out the effort this spring.

The initiative will involve between 8 and 10 of NorthShore’s primary care practices, Kristen Murtos, NorthShore’s chief administrative and strategy officer, said in a phone interview. Via the health system’s patient portal, eligible individuals will be notified of the opportunity to participate in DNA10K. If they’re interested, they can inform their PCP at their annual visit.

Those who want to be involved will provide a blood sample, which is analyzed in Color’s lab. Murtos said it takes roughly three weeks before the results are available to the patient. Their PCP receives the results as well, and patients have the additional option to access genetic counselors and clinical pharmacists from Color and NorthShore to gain more insight into their results.

At JPM this week, Murtos noted that the patient data from the Color sequencing tests would be integrated with patients’ medical records.

The goal is to help patients learn more about their genetic makeup, including risk factors for hereditary cancers and heart diseases. Murtos added that the system wants to ascertain whether this offering has a positive impact on patients and improves their experience.

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Another aim is to get a more comprehensive picture of patients’ health. “Genomics is another piece of that pie in creating a complete view of our patients,” Murtos said.

Finally, NorthShore hopes the effort will help improve clinical outcomes and bend the cost curve.

Murtos said that if DNA10K plays out positively, NorthShore would hope to extend the offering to all the patients in its system.

DNA10K follows a pilot between the two organizations during which over 1,000 patients enrolled in the Color population health program as part of their primary care visit. According to Murtos, that effort was a way for the system to determine whether there was interest in the idea and to test whether the offering could be integrated into the primary care visit.

NorthShore isn’t the only health system to rethink care in this way. Last year, Geisinger announced plans to make sequencing part of routine clinical care. At the time, the Pennsylvania-based system said its efforts would launch with a 1,000-person pilot and an ultimate goal of extending the offering to all 3 million patients, according to Kaiser Health News.

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