WellSpan Health and Helix, the nation’s leading population genomics and viral surveillance company, announced a partnership to create a comprehensive population genomics program designed to improve patient healthcare outcomes by integrating genetic insights into clinical care and research.
How does it work?
Patients who are interested can have a DNA sample collected to generate genomic data. Once obtained, with their consent, the results from their sample will be integrated into their electronic medical record (EMR), providing them and their physicians valuable insights into their personal health.
Led by Dr. C. Anwar A. Chahal, director of the Center for Inherited Cardiovascular Diseases, and Dr. David Kann, Precision Medicine medical director, this new program aligns with WellSpan’s vision to reimagine healthcare and improve outcomes to create healthier communities.
Additionally, the genomic data, which removes any information that may directly identify an individual, from consenting participants may help WellSpan better understand the health of its overall population and assist researchers to learn the root causes of certain diseases and the most effective treatments for them.
Participants will have firsthand access to their personal genetic data which can help providers initially determine a patient’s risk for serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and certain cancers including breast and colorectal cancers.
The genetic reports made available by this program may allow patients and their health providers to develop precision health care plans to proactively mitigate serious health risk conditions and take a more preventative and individualized approach to their care.
Powered by one of the largest genomic sequencing labs in the world, Helix enables the production of high-quality data at population scale using its proprietary Exome+ assay. Special best practices are used to ensure data privacy. Helix is also the first and only clinical laboratory to receive FDA de novo authorization for a whole exome sequencing platform.
WellSpan will leverage Helix’s genomic platform and unique Sequence Once, Query Often model. This allows the opportunity to run future tests that provide new and ongoing health insights without the need to collect additional genetic samples from each patient. In addition to clinically actionable disease screening, Helix will also be providing population genomics support including recruitment and engagement, return of results, and basic and translational research.
Participation in this soon-to-be named research program at WellSpan will be completely optional, and at no cost to the participant. Details on how to request participation in the program will be provided to WellSpan communities in early 2023, prior to the official launch of the program.
On the record
“We believe understanding what makes each of our patients unique is key to providing the most personalized, high quality healthcare outcomes possible. Our partnership with Helix will allow us to take a significant step toward making this promise a reality by offering participating patients care and treatment options specific to their genetic data,” said Dr. Anthony Aquilina, executive vice president and chief physician officer of WellSpan Health.
“Helix’s partnership with WellSpan Health will provide approximately 2,600 physicians and clinicians and their participating patients access to critical information that will help uncover genetic risk more efficiently at the point-of-care to improve health outcomes,” said Helix CEO and cofounder James Lu. “Population genomics will transform health care delivery and outcomes, and Helix and WellSpan are leading the way into a future of more personalized medicine for all.”
WellSpan joins Helix’s leading group of partner health systems that span over 30,000 medical professionals and nearly 500,000 patient participants across the United States. These programs have already found that 1 in 75 participants received a positive result for a serious actionable genetic condition, of which 90 percent would not have been discovered through traditional medical practice.