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California Hospital Pursues Genomic Medicine with DNA Direct

This article has been updated to include comments from a DNA Direct official.

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – El Camino Hospital of Silicon Valley said today that it has partnered with DNA Direct to offer DNA services to its patients and doctors in an effort to integrate genomic medicine into its healthcare program.

The hospital said it has started its Genomic Medicine Institute through a partnership with DNA Direct that will offer genetic information services, including phone consultations, counseling services, and web-based tools.

GMI also plans to work through partnerships with other local companies to "enable community physicians to properly use counseling, tests, and targeted therapy."

El Camino VP and GMI sponsor Jon Friedenberg said in a statement that the institute will "help bridge the information gap for physicians and patients, making genomic medicine a viable option."

GMI has selected nine tests so far that are aimed at cardiology, gastroenterology, obstetrics, gynecology, oncology and psychiatry. DNA Direct will provide a physician portal, educational web seminars, questionnaires, medical literature, clinical guideline reviews, and physician-referred counseling.

"With more than 1,700 genetic tests currently available, genomic medicine has already begun to change the delivery of healthcare," DNA Direct CEO Ryan Phelan said in a statement.

She said that the partnership will help doctors enhance care through "streamlined, cost-effective access to guidance and decision support services that help identify the most appropriate testing option, ensuring that the right patient gets the right test at the right time, and that results are interpreted in the correct clinical context."

Mark Reis, director of marketing at DNA Direct, told GenomeWeb Daily News today that that partnership is in line with a strategy to form more partnerships with healthcare providers and payors who are seeking a cost-effective way to expand their genetic testing offerings.

Community hospitals, in particular, may not have the resources to support an in-house genetics facility, so DNA Direct can act as a "virtual genetics center" for these organizations, he said.

The company currently employs around 20 people, including eight genetic counselors with different areas of expertise, Reis said. Around half of DNA Direct's employees are on the technical side, developing web-based support systems for patients and physicians.

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