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DNA Direct Inks Contracts with Health Plans, Hospitals

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – In separate announcements today, DNA Direct announced four health plans and four hospitals will start using its programs for evaluating molecular and genetic tests.

Qualchoice of Arkansas and Capital District Physicians Health Plan, which is based in New York, are implementing DNA Direct's Policy and Benefit Support Program for molecular and genetic tests. They are the first regional health plans to use the program, said San Francisco-based DNA Direct, a wholly owned subsidiary of pharmaceutical benefits management firm Medco Health Solutions.

Also, AultCare of Ohio and Bluegrass Family Health, based in Kentucky, will be implementing DNA Direct's case review support service, which provides on-demand coverage guidance.

The Policy and Benefit Support Program provides online information about molecular and genetic tests. The portal, DNA Direct said, contains "detailed clinical information for individual tests as well as coverage decision support."

Recommendations made under the program are based on a continual review of scientific literature, an evaluation of the science, an assessment of the advantages and drawbacks for potential outcomes, and the ease of implementing recommendations, DNA Direct said.

According to the firm, molecular and genetic tests are currently available for more than 2,000 diseases, and more than 300 new tests enter the market each year.

"Due to the increasing number of genetic tests coming on the market, there is confusion among physicians, patients, and payors about which tests are clinically appropriate," Ryan Phelan, founder and president of DNA Direct, said in a statement. "We are working with innovative health plans that want to get ahead of the curve and implement an effective strategy to provide the necessary clinical guidance and support for providers and patients."

Separately, the company said that Aspirus Wausau Hospital in Wausau, Wis.; Atlantic Health of Morristown, N.J.; Crittenton Hospital Medical Center in Rochester, Mich.; and Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago, have joined its Genomic Medicine Network to provide personalized medical services to their patients.

The network was launched in 2009 and provides hospitals with a patient and physician web-based personalized medicine portal containing educational content and other support to help determine test appropriateness and access to genetic experts, DNA Direct said.

According to a study done in 2009 by Medco and the American Medical Association, the vast majority of doctors recognize the usefulness that genetic testing may offer by guiding prescription and dosing decisions. However, most doctors don't believe they know enough about such tests to put them into practice, DNA Direct added.

Last week, researchers from Tufts University also wrote in Genetics in Medicine that personalized genomic testing should be introduced into the medical school curriculum in a gradual and calculated manner.

"We believe that genomic medicine is becoming an important part of day-to-day medical practice and a key piece of the puzzle as we all seek to better stratify risk factors and improve care for our patients," Arnold Pallay, director of primary care genomics at Atlantic Health, said in a statement. "Providing a community portal, decision support tools, and physician education goes a long way towards meeting the needs of patients and physicians alike."

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