DNA Direct’s Founder and CEO Reflects on Company’s Growth
Posted Nov 19 2009 10:01pm
July 16th, 2009 By Ryan Phelan
This week, DNA Direct launched a Genetic Guidance Program for Humana, one of the country’s largest healthcare plans. We are a genetic expertise resource for millions of Humana members and their providers – a major milestone for DNA Direct. As I reflect on our evolution from a consumer-facing business to a robust platform for guidance and decision support for genomic medicine, I see validation of the view I’ve held since the beginning that genomics must be integrated into healthcare in order to have broad impact on patient care. With all of the activity and excitement around genomic medicine today, I can’t help but think about our origins and how our mission is coming to fruition.
When I launched DNA Direct in 2005, I believed the field of genomics would transform healthcare. We were at the beginning of a revolution, but when and how genomics would change the medical landscape was still unclear. My promise at that time was to start with the people we knew would benefit most, and evolve our offerings as the landscape unfolded. So, we began with services for consumers. By helping consumers access state-of-the-art genetic testing and interpretation, we knew we could make a difference in their healthcare. We focused on areas that have significant impact on patient care, such as testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.
We also knew that for genetics to become part of the fabric of healthcare, physicians would want to adopt these technologies in a way that they had not done so before. Consumer awareness of genetics could help foster and push that transition, but it had to be collaborative. So within our consumer services, we included components for physicians and supportive materials to help consumers work with their healthcare team.
Once we began offering our services to the public, it became clear there were physicians around the country who wanted to incorporate genetic testing into patient care, but didn’t feel comfortable ordering it and interpreting test results. We realized there was a more fundamental role DNA Direct could play directly with physicians, and that realization prompted the development of new guidance and decision support solutions for genomic medicine.
By working with innovative hospitals like El Camino Medical Center where we recently partnered to develop the first Genomic Medicine Institute at a community hospital, DNA Direct can address each factor along the healthcare continuum. With El Camino, we can do all the things that we set out to do: help physicians incorporate cutting-edge genomic tests in the care of their patients, serve patients by increasing their access to the genomic tests that can improve their health care, and facilitate discussion with all players across health care around one of the most important areas in medicine.
Similarly, our program with Humana provides us a great opportunity to leverage what we’ve accomplished to-date and touch that many more lives. DNA Direct’s genetic expertise will help Humana make better decisions about who can benefit from genetic and genomic testing. In turn, Humana will help their providers secure appropriate testing, so that they can best serve their patients. At the end of the day, DNA Direct remains true to the vision that we started with when our company was founded: the utilization of genomic medicine to improve peoples’ lives.
As I reflect on our progress since 2005, where we are today is exactly where we set out to be: enabling the practical, pragmatic application of genomic medicine into patient care. We’ve developed technology unique to genomics, which we use to create web-based applications for guidance and decision support for genomic medicine. These are paired with a national call center of genetic experts, to provide comprehensive genetic expertise – all to improve care and delivery of care through the integration of genomic medicine. At DNA Direct, we’re excited about the evolution of the industry and we are committed to helping patients, providers and payors benefit from genomic medicine.