Genetic testing is skyrocketing, but understanding of these tests—by both clinicians and patients—is lacking. Yet molecular diagnostics are expensive, not always reimbursed, and without proper context can leave providers and patients alike with more questions than answers. The afternoon short course at AACC's Annual Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo on July 29, “Improving Patient Care and Managing Health Care Resources by Ensuring Proper Use of Genetic Testing: The Role of the Laboratory Genetic Counselor” (74217), will look at how genetic counselors can bring clarity to this situation.

This session will feature a highly regarded trio of experts, including Jane Dickerson, PhD, Michael Astion, MD, PhD, and Elaine Lyon, PhD. Dickerson is co-director of chemistry and associate director of reference lab services at Seattle Children’s Hospital and clinical assistant professor of laboratory medicine at the University of Washington. Astion is medical director of the Department of Laboratories at Seattle Children’s Hospital and chair of CLN’s Patient Safety Focus editorial board. Lyon is section chief of molecular genetics and co-medical director of pharmacogenomics at ARUP Laboratories in Salt Lake City and associate professor of pathology at the University of Utah School of Medicine.

According to Astion, genetic testing is growing more than 20% per year, while knowledge of how to properly order and interpret these tests is lacking, in no small part due to the pace of change, which is so great that it’s “nearly impossible for care providers to develop and maintain competence.” The result is that “the incorrect ordering of genetic tests has become a huge problem, both from a quality and financial perspective. Patients and labs are paying huge sums for tests that frequently are not necessary, or the wrong test,” he told CLN Stat.

Drawing upon their own experiences, Astion, Dickerson, and Lyon plan to make the case for laboratory genetic counselors to alleviate this circumstance. “There has been a lot of discussion and studies that define the problem [of genetic tests being ordered and interpreted inappropriately]. We will give attendees perspective and practical solutions they can use to get their institutions to support the use of genetic counselors in the lab, and how to best utilize genetic counselors if they are already employed in their molecular labs,” added Dickerson.

According to Astion, lab genetic counselors can have a dramatic impact not only on in-house molecular tests, but also genetic send-out cases. A hefty 25% order modification rate is “remarkably consistent” across organizations, he indicated.

Register online to learn more about the benefits of laboratory genetic counselors and how to justify this position in your lab.