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El Camino Hospital's Genomic Medicine Institute Offers Genetic Counseling

Mountain View, CA - November 22, 2011 - El Camino Hospital's Genomic Medicine Institute (GMI) now offers genetic counseling services to help patients learn more about the causes and probable effects of genetic conditions that may have been passed down through their families. Lily Servais, MS, CGC, a DNA Direct® by Medco™ affiliated board-certified genetic counselor, will provide assistance with an array of services such as pre and post-test counseling, which includes reviewing family and medical histories, explaining how genetic conditions are passed down through families, determining individual and family disease risks, researching specific genetic conditions and providing information about testing options. Lily can also facilitate referrals to medical specialists, advocacy and support networks and other resources.

"Genomic medicine has opened up truly exciting opportunities for patients and doctors to improve diagnosis, treatment and prevention of certain diseases," said Eric Pifer, MD, El Camino Hospital's Chief Medical Officer. "But it's challenging even for specialists to stay on top of the latest developments, and there's frequently not enough time in the patient's appointment to cover all the issues and questions that might arise. We can provide that resource and ensure that both the patient and physician get the information needed to make appropriate decisions."

Lynn Dowling, Executive Director of the GMI, thinks patients and their physicians will increasingly look to genomics to make more informed decisions and to find better treatment options. "According to a recent AMA survey, nearly all physicians surveyed believe that genetic tests can be useful in prescribing medicines," she points out. "Beyond that, there are so many additional reasons to consult with a genetic counselor, including identifying prenatal testing options, assessing individual risk for conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes or other diseases with a strong genetic component, or concerns about a recent diagnosis that might have a genetic or inherited component."

Earlier this year, the GMI launched a Family Medical History Tool powered by DNA Direct® by Medco™. The web-based tool helps catalog and analyze the medical history information of family members, potentially uncovering health patterns among relatives.

"Our genetic counseling service should make it easier for people to understand and leverage the information they gather using the tool," Dowling says. "Together, these services are intended to empower patients to make better decisions."

Genetic counseling services often are covered by insurance, according to Dowling. "Some plans require a referral from a primary care doctor," she says. "If you've been recommended for genetic testing, we'll work with you and the testing laboratory to determine your level of coverage before doing any genetic testing. You also can consult with your insurance plan to determine your coverage."