NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Genome Medical this week said it had closed a round of series A-1 financing worth $11 million. Separately, the San Francisco-based telegenomics company announced the launch of several programs to assist employer groups in offering genetic services and physician-guided genetic testing to their employees.
New investors GE Ventures and Kaiser Permanente Ventures led the new round, which included contributions from Illumina Ventures and Canaan Partners, who had participated in earlier financings. With the new investments, Genome Medical has raised $23 million to date. The company said that it had raised about $12 million in series A and seed financing in May.
"Our most recent financing is just indicative of a strong need in the market for increased access to medical geneticists and genetic counselors," said CEO Lisa Alderson. She said that Genome Medical will use the proceeds to expand its nationwide footprint, as well as to invest in its telegenomics platform.
"This is still a fairly early-stage company," said Alderson,"but we have accomplished a lot in a short period of time." In addition to GE's interest in genetic testing, Alderson also noted that Kaiser's investment reflects an interest from healthcare systems in the services that Genome Medical provides.
"I think we are seeing in the market in general that integrative healthcare systems are early adopters of genomic technologies because they are both the provider and payor," said Alderson. "Among Kaiser, Geisinger, Intermountain, there is a lot of interest in genomics."
Alderson co-founded Genome Medical last year with Invitae Executive Chairman Robert Scott, and Robert Green, director of the Genomes2People Research Program at Brigham and Women's Hospital. The company rolled out its initial services offering last May, looking to provide physicians and patients access to its network of clinical genomics experts for $149. The company's goal is to offer such consultations to physicians and patients via its telegenomics platform, bridging a gap in genomic medicine where many are overwhelmed by the options available to them.
Alderson said that the healthcare system is "not doing a great job" of linking individuals with the standard of care on genetics. "It's simply because the market is undergoing such dramatic change in innovation, in technology, in science, in medicine," she said. "It's all coming together in a very exciting way but creating challenges in terms of actual medical delivery of services because the field is changing so quickly."
Since Genome Medical launched last year, Alderson said the firm has been focused on expanding its coverage in the US. The company now offers genetic counseling in all 50 states, and physician services are available in 30 states, covering nearly three-quarters of the population. Alderson said the company will expand all services nationwide this year, as well as augment its offerings, particularly in cancer genetics, cardiovascular genetics, and reproductive health.
Genome Medical relies on its telegenomics platform to serve its expanding client base. As such the firm will also be investing in its platform to improve its efficiency. This includes the "ability to schedule an appointment with a clinician who is licensed, to get a patient to the right physician, and to provide telehealth services all via video," Alderson noted. Ultimately, it also supports the logistics process of ordering the right test, receiving results, and guiding clinical recommendations.
Genome Medical will also use its new funding to expand its services to hospitals, health systems, large physician groups, and employer groups, Alderson said.
"In 2017, we were heavily focused on building our nationwide footprint," said Alderson. "We are now expanding the types of institutions and physician groups we can support," she said. "There is a heavy amount of integration and being able to support large physician groups, health systems, and hospitals is an area of the market where we see a lot of need."
She noted that as a national genomic medical practice, Genome Medical accepts insurance billing for its services, as well as institutional billing and direct patient payment. "We are working on becoming an in-network provider with the major insurance companies," she said.
As part of this outreach, the company this week announced the launch of programs geared toward employer groups, enabling clients to offer genetic services and physician-guided genetic testing to their employees through Genome Medical.
Through its Genetic Medical Services offering, the company identifies individuals at risk for inherited diseases or conditions who qualify for genetic testing under current medical guidelines and insurance coverage. Such patients receive genetic counseling, genetic test ordering, sample collection, medical case management, and referrals as needed, according to Genome Medical.
Genome Medical has also introduced Proactive Health Programs to employers, which assess individuals' family history while providing proactive genetic screening for actionable genetic conditions. The company said the program includes testing for genetic markers associated with heritable cancers, cardiovascular disease, and blood disorders; assessment of any potential complications related to medication; and carrier testing.
Genome Medical has also created a Genetics Resource Center to make its network of genetic experts available to employees. According to the company, the center relies on interactive tools, real-time chat services, and its telehealth platform to serve users. Genome Medical now offers a Second Opinion program as well, allowing individuals to consult the company's network of experts for opinion on any genetic-related diagnosis or treatment plan.
"These employer programs are unique, in that they are often set up as a benefit for the employee by the employer," said Alderson. "Increasingly, employers are competing for cost balance, and they are looking for ways to build satisfaction and retention," she said. "Our proactive health program, for instance, is designed as a benefit for the employee."
All of the new services should make it easier for employees to participate in a program, where they complete a family health history and work with Genome Medical directly to gain access to its geneticists who can offer guidance to individuals have an elevated risk of developing a disease. "We are most focused on cancer and cardiovascular disease, both of which have a strong hereditary component," noted Alderson.
By identifying individuals who would benefit from testing in advance of being in a disease state, not only do individuals benefit, but also employers, Alderson added. "You have a healthy, productive employee, and you don't have the burden of treating metastatic cancer," she said.
Genome Medical is also eyeing opportunities outside the country and considering an international expansion.
"The ways in which we would do that is by providing support for clinicians outside of the US," said Alderson. "It would be less around direct patient care, but more about opening up access to our expertise and network," she said. "With 7,000 Mendelian inherited disorders, even the top geneticists worldwide can't know everything about all 7,000 diseases," Alderson continued. "We provide easy access to that specialized knowledge and expertise, particularly around cases with high complexity, and we see a benefit in opening up those resources outside the US."