A Novel Approach to Supporting Employee Benefits Programs for Genetic Wellness

October 2019

By Fine CA, Swope BJ, Gordon ES, Meyers L, Weissman SM, Bailey J, Fan A, Jordan E, LeLuyer B, Rope AF, Shabazz H, and Bleyl SB

Vying for top talent in a tight labor market is difficult for employers as the economy grows and competition increases. Thus, employee packages have started incorporating benefits called “genetic wellness” as a result of an explosion of affordable genetic tests offering medically actionable insights. Employers offering these benefits typically do not partner with genetic clinicians, but rather with a single genetic laboratory offering a specific test. We describe an employee benefit program offering medical genetics services through Genome Medical, a nationwide genomics medical practice, and a proactive genetic screen for cardiac, cancer and other conditions. This program was offered during a three-month timeframe with a registration cap of 200 employees. It included mandatory viewing of an educational webinar of material typically discussed in a genetic counseling session. Employees were required to complete a medical and family history questionnaire which was assessed by a certified genetic counselor (CGC), and had the option of a pre- and/or post-test virtual one-on-one CGC session. Genetic results were interpreted by a CGC in the context of each employee’s reported histories, and a results-based clinical action plan was provided to each participant. 200 employees registered for the program. 189 (95%) individuals watched the webinar. 181 (91%) completed the required questionnaire. Only 25% requested a pre-test CGC session. 170 individuals pursued proactive screening with some of the following motivations: understand a condition in family (42%), help family members (14%), and/or take medical action (12%). 15/75 (20%) individuals were found to have medically actionable genetic variant(s) for hemochromatosis, familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a hereditary cancer syndrome, and/or malignant hyperthermia. 74/170 (44%) individuals were found to be a carrier for at least one condition. Only 20% of participants requested a post-test CGC session. Satisfaction data indicated >80% of responding participants did not prefer an in-person pre-test CGC session; 92% did not prefer an in-person post-test CGC session, program expectations were met in 92% of respondents and 91% found the program to be valuable. Almost 100% of respondents would recommend this program to a coworker. Assisting employers in helping their employees obtain personalized actionable genetic insights can be done in a responsible, scalable and efficient manner, with a high rate of satisfaction.


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Topics: Papers and Publications, genetic-counseling, genetic-testing, cancer-genetics, cardio-genetics, employers, pediatric-genetics, proactive-genetics, reproductive-genetics, papers-publications

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