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Advancing Progress and Possibilities for a Healthier Future

Pursuing New
Genomics Opportunities:

Our Collaboration with Genetic Research
Leader, Color

Science tells us that when it comes to our risk of developing certain types of cancer and heart disease, we’re not all created equal.

Meron Azage, innovationOchsner (iO) genetics counselor, works with patients to identify disease markers before they lead to illness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 2 million people in the United States are at increased risk for adverse health outcomes because they have genetic mutations associated with certain hereditary cancers and heart disease. But what if we could take proactive measures to identify patients who are at higher risk for these diseases with the goal of early detection and prevention of future illness?

That’s the big idea behind Ochsner’s new partnership with Color, a leader in delivering precision healthcare through cutting-edge technology. The initiative is the first of its kind: a fully digital population health pilot program that integrates clinically actionable genomic results into standard care and underscores Ochsner’s emphasis on delivering personalized healthcare. “Color was chosen as a partner because it offers consumer-initiated genetic testing that requires a physician order,” says Meron Azage, innovationOchsner (iO) genetic counselor. “It uses comprehensive clinical grade genetic testing technology, provides support to patients, their families and providers with genetic counseling services, and emphasizes data security and privacy as a key differentiator.”

Developed by Ochsner’s innovation lab, iO, the program aims to proactively identify patients prior to onset of disease. The partnership leverages Color’s unique combination of medical grade genetic testing technology and patient engagement with iO’s approach to making individualized patient-level insights actionable and integrating them into Epic and routine patient care at scale. The team began with a phase 1 pilot program that offered genetic screening at no cost to up to 1,000 patients with the goals of establishing and testing the process while educating providers and patients on the benefits of population health genetic testing.

Based on the CDC’s determination that early detection and intervention could significantly reduce the risk of disease, Ochsner’s program screens for three conditions:

  • Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome (HBOC) due to mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes
  • Lynch Syndrome associated with increased risk in colorectal, endometrial, ovarian and other cancers
  • Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH) which increases the risk for heart disease or stroke

As noted by Dr. Richard Milani, Chief Clinical Transformation Officer and Medical Director, iO, “Genetic insights provide an additional data point to allow us to develop and deliver a more personalized approach in partnership with our patients. Integrating this information into the patient’s electronic health record so the physician can review the results and discuss proactive treatment recommendations is yet another example of how we are reengineering care and empowering patients to become more involved in their health.”