66 percent of doctors say genetic testing could lead to better outcomes because patients are more proactive about their health after learning about their DNA health profile
34 percent of doctors said they had personally taken a direct-to-consumer genetic health test
SUNNYVALE, Calif., May 16, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — 23andMe Holding Co. (Nasdaq: ME) (23andMe) today announced that a new survey, which found that primary care physicians are more and more comfortable discussing genetic testing with their patients than they were two years ago, and that more than two-thirds of those physicians who’ve taken a test themselves would recommend testing for health purposes if a patient inquired.
The survey, conducted by Medscape — a leading source of clinical news, health information, and point-of-care tools for healthcare professionals — is the third in a series of surveys done in collaboration with 23andMe since 2018, which look at physicians’ attitudes and knowledge of direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing.
The responses are a marked difference in attitudes among primary care physicians in the last four years, and a sea change in attitudes from when DTC genetic testing from companies like 23andMe first became available in 2007. As recently as 2016, a study by the Impact of Personal Genomics Study Group found that many consumers said their physicians were skeptical of DTC genetic testing, or uninterested in their results. Based on this most recent survey, physicians’ attitudes seem to have evolved.
“Genetic information can contribute to keeping people healthy and preventing disease. It can also help us diagnose diseases earlier and personalize management,” said Noura Abul-Husn, MD, PhD, Vice President of Genomic Health at 23andMe. “That’s what makes building ways to incorporate this information into clinical care so important. It’s encouraging to see more and more physicians recognize the potential for genetics to improve patient care.”
The rise in DTC genetic testing means that more and more doctors and their patients are aware of the role their genetics plays in health. Genetics has always played a role in health outcomes, just as other factors like environment and lifestyle, but in 2018 only about three in ten doctors said they regularly saw cases involving genetics at least once a week or more.
“Awareness of the value of genetics in patient care provides the impetus for improved genetics education and learning for healthcare providers — a long-known barrier to genetics-informed healthcare,” said Anne Greb, 23andMe’s Director of Clinical Genetics, Education & Outreach.
There’s also increased familiarity with DTC genetic testing. According to the survey, most of the doctors surveyed said they were familiar with genetic testing, and 34 percent said they had personally taken a direct-to-consumer genetic health test.
The increase in use of DTC genetic testing means that primary care physicians have a better understanding of the types of information — genetic health predispositions, carrier status and pharmacogenomic reports — that are available to their patients. Indeed, the survey shows that primary care physicians are more aware of the types of information offered in DTC genetic testing when compared to 2020. For example, in 2020 only about 36 percent were aware that consumer tests offered information indicating how a person’s genetics can affect their response to certain medications, versus 50 percent awareness in 2022. Similarly, awareness regarding genetic health predisposition information in genetic tests went up from 58 percent in 2020 to 66 percent in 2022.
The doctors surveyed were also more likely than they were two years ago to have discussed issues around genetic testing, including family health history, and privacy protections. About 33 percent of doctors said they’d had patients wanting to discuss their genetic health risk information from a DTC genetic health test.
Increased awareness of genetics has also resulted in doctors recognizing the value of family health history. Sixty-five percent of doctors said family health history would be helpful in providing the best care to patients About 40 percent of physicians surveyed report discussing three-generation family history with patients over the past 12 months. This was up from 29 percent in 2020. Documenting a three-generation family history ranked second as the area doctors said they were most comfortable with when discussing genetic testing with patients.
With this greater familiarity with the types of tests available, two-thirds of primary care physicians said that they would now “definitely” or “probably” recommend genetic testing for health purposes to inquiring patients. Because these tests often engage people in their own health, doctors also see an opportunity for better outcomes. Sixty-two percent of doctors surveyed said genetic testing could help them provide more personalized care. And 66 percent said using genetic testing could lead to better outcomes because their patients are more proactive after learning about their DNA health profile.
Some of these results, along with a survey from consumers, were included in data 23andMe released in March 2023 looking at how genetics can help bridge the gap to more personalized healthcare.
The Medscape survey was completed by 1,000 U.S. primary care physicians on the Medscape platform between October 5th to 26th 2022. One hundred percent of respondents were primary care physicians in family, internal medicine or internal medicine with a sub-specialty. Respondents have practiced an average of 20.9 years. Respondents were invited to respond to the online survey. The margin of error at a 95% confidence level is +/- 3.0%. The survey is a follow-up to a 2018 survey and a 2020 survey on the same topic and on the same platform.
Medscape is the leading source of clinical news, health information, and point-of-care tools for health care professionals. Medscape offers specialists, primary care physicians, and other health professionals the most robust and integrated medical information and educational tools. Medscape Education (medscape.org) is the leading destination for continuous professional development, consisting of more than 30 specialty-focused destinations offering thousands of free C.M.E. and C.E. courses and other educational programs for physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals. Medscape is a subsidiary of WebMD Health Corp.
23andMe is a genetics-led consumer healthcare and biopharmaceutical company empowering a healthier future. For more information, please visit www.23andMe.com.
Forward Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, including, without limitation, statements regarding the future performance of 23andMe’s businesses in consumer genetics and therapeutics and the growth and potential of its proprietary research platform. All statements, other than statements of historical fact, included or incorporated in this press release, including statements regarding 23andMe’s strategy, financial position, funding for continued operations, cash reserves, projected costs, plans, and objectives of management, are forward-looking statements. The words “believes,” “anticipates,” “estimates,” “plans,” “expects,” “intends,” “may,” “could,” “should,” “potential,” “likely,” “projects,” “predicts,” “continue,” “will,” “schedule,” and “would” or, in each case, their negative or other variations or comparable terminology, are intended to identify forward-looking statements, although not all forward-looking statements contain these identifying words. These forward-looking statements are predictions based on 23andMe’s current expectations and projections about future events and various assumptions. 23andMe cannot guarantee that it will actually achieve the plans, intentions, or expectations disclosed in its forward-looking statements and you should not place undue reliance on 23andMe’s forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements involve a number of risks, uncertainties (many of which are beyond the control of 23andMe), or other assumptions that may cause actual results or performance to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements contained herein are also subject generally to other risks and uncertainties that are described from time to time in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including under Item 1A, “Risk Factors” in the Company’s most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K, as filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and as revised and updated by our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K. The statements made herein are made as of the date of this press release and, except as may be required by law, 23andMe undertakes no obligation to update them, whether as a result of new information, developments, or otherwise.
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