As consumer genetic testing continues to pick up steam—with the idea that patients are becoming more interested in how their inherited health impacts their future wellness—hospitals and health systems have also taken to finding ways to incorporate genetic information into primary care.
In Evanston, Ill., about 12 miles from downtown Chicago, NorthShore University HealthSystem is aiming to provide “advanced primary care” by integrating genetics as part of each patient’s care plan. Indeed, prior to a patient’s annual physical, he or she gets the opportunity to complete a genetic and wellness assessment—a questionnaire that asks the patient about his or her personal or family history of certain medical conditions.
Based on the patient’s responses, his or her physician may recommend a referral to one of NorthShore’s personalized medicine clinics or be recommended to have certain lab tests performed in order to find out additional information related to their DNA. This information would then be used to create a customized care and treatment plan based on the patient’s unique genetic characteristics and health history, according to NorthShore officials.
John Mark Revis, M.D., a primary care physician at NorthShore University HealthSystem, says that the Center for Medical Genetics at Northshore has been around since 1997, but things really kicked off about eight years ago since technology has evolved, and the breadth of testing has become more available. Revis credits Peter Hulick, M.D., the medical director of the Center for Personalized Medicine at NorthShore, for having the vision to bring genetics and genetic testing to the forefront of primary care. The integrated health system, which includes a 900-physician multispecialty group practice, NorthShore Medical Group, with 130 locations in the Chicagoland area, now has all of its primary care practices engaging in this genetic testing initiative.