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Lessons Learned from COVID-19: Genetic Counseling Adaptations and Challenges to Alternate Service Delivery Models
Date of Award
Thesis - Campus Access Only
MS in Human Genetics
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the rapid adoption of telegenetics service delivery models (SDMs) by the genetic counseling field. While previous studies addressed the transition to virtual health systems in singularity, little is known about the pandemic’s effects on clinics across multiple institutions. Herein we analyzed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on telegenetics transition, access and efficacy from a broader perspective. A survey was administered to genetic counselors (GCs) through the National Society of Genetic Counselors listserv. The study found that the majority of GCs (81.6%) implemented telegenetics during the pandemic regardless of specialty (p > 0.05). Among those that implemented telegenetics, 58.7% indicated a decrease in patient volumes, as compared to a reported 90.5% decrease by those practices that did not utilize telegenetics. Similarly, 44.2% of GCs that implemented telegenetics, observed a decrease in genetic testing compared to 57.2% of GCs that did not use virtual platforms. Barriers encountered to the uptake of telegenetics by patients included perceived discomfort with the platform (41.8%), lack of access to an internet enabled computer/device (41.8%), preference for in-person medical appointments (40.8%) and inability to access internet services (31.1%). Thus, while telegenetics enabled continuity of care and testing uptake, there remained challenges associated to the access of virtual platforms, supporting the idea of employing a mixed model approach to SDMs. Furthermore, data supports the need for additional training, education and advocacy on the utilization of telegenetics as well as billing and reimbursement practices to promote and sustain quality genetic counseling services.
Rekab, Aisha and Nguyen, Angel, "Lessons Learned from COVID-19: Genetic Counseling Adaptations and Challenges to Alternate Service Delivery Models" (2021). Human Genetics Theses. 98.