Beaumont to launch groundbreaking precision health initiative

A pilot program launching this spring places Beaumont Health at the forefront of genomics and precision medicine, two emerging fields that offer a new approach for early prediction and prevention of specific diseases by identifying patients with a genetic risk of developing specific medical conditions.

The precision population health initiative is aimed at implementing genetic screening through primary care providers. Patients will be offered a genetic panel screening, genetic counseling, and appropriate preventative care if a positive result is determined.

“This is about giving individuals and families the power to take control of their health; it’s about recognizing the power that genetic testing has and using it to help take care of our community,” said Julie Zenger-Hain, Ph.D., medical geneticist and director of Clinical Genetics for Beaumont and a member of the core team spearheading this initiative.

Pilot participants will undergo screening to identify specific genetic mutations that would be a precursor for the patient to develop specific diseases later in life, to allow for early detection and to begin preventative care.

Among the diseases the multi-gene panel screening will cover primarily include inherited forms of cancers and cardiovascular diseases such as breast, colon, ovarian and prostate cancers, aortic disease (aneurysm and dissection), arrhythmia and cardiomyopathy.

“By taking advantage of technologies we have today and identifying people who would benefit from early detection and preventative treatment options, we can not only enhance the quality of life throughout an individual’s lifespan, but also that of their family members,” Dr. Zenger-Hain said. “This project is demonstrating Beaumont’s Mission, Vision and Values of patient- and family-centered care.”

The goal is to engage 1,000 individuals 18 years of age and older who want to receive the test results to help them and their physician manage their health. Four Beaumont-associated primary care practices across various geographic areas within Metro Detroit will be represented to reach and support diverse and underrepresented populations. All testing and genetic counseling costs will be covered by the program. Key partners include Mass General Brigham and Harvard Medical School.

The results from the pilot will enable Beaumont to understand how genetic screening will impact patient care and provider satisfaction, while increasing quality of care at a lower cost, and to determine the future direction of genomics.

“A limited number of U.S. health care systems have tried to integrate genomic health into primary care,” Dr. Zenger-Hain said. “We want Beaumont to be among the first in the Midwest to do so.”

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