Despite physician optimism about the future of genetic testing, close to 60 percent of doctors worry that the cost of such tests will be too high, according to a recent survey conducted by UnitedHealth Group/Harris Interactive in a new report released this week by the UnitedHealth Group Center for Health Reform & Modernization.
In contrast, 19 percent of the more than 1,200 doctors surveyed said they thought such tests would actually lower healthcare costs, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times. Currently, spending on genetic tests is hovering around the $5 billion mark, a figure that's expected to quintuple to $25 billion by 2021, according to the report.
"Continued advances in genetics, genomics and proteomics have the potential to change medicine dramatically over the next several decades," the report's authors said. "Both physicians and patients see the potential for genetic testing to improve care, and they expect continued advances in the future. However, this growth also presents new challenges."
The report's authors pointed out that interoperable health IT could go hand-in-hand with such tests, specifically saying that electronic health records could provide "real-time information and alerts" to help with recommending necessary tests for patients. They referred to a digital patient entry system used at Cincinnati Children's Hospital that lets doctors know about genomic tests available for assessing patient responses to different therapies as an example.
"E-prescribing systems also could serve as platforms to alert providers that genetic test exist to determine the efficacy of particular treatment options," they added.