DNA Testing Positioned to Cut Costs Of Healthcare If Service Providers Get On Board

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New research shows that patients would take advantage of DNA testing if their physicians offered the service, and would return to physicians for preventive care based on results.

One of the most significant benefits of risk testing is awareness. There are always those who would rather not know. However, as longevity has increased, so a rapidly increasing percentage of the population are proactive in acting on preventative lifestyle changes.

A new survey of U.S. patient opinions suggests that wider adoption of DNA testing could increase efficiency and cut costs for both consumers and the healthcare industry. Although this has been a widely held industry view, it now seems that patients would react proactively to adverse test results.

The short-form survey is part of the morefocus group's on-going health and lifestyle research initiative, designed to study the changing attitudes of U.S. consumers to healthcare, leisure, education and work. The survey was carried out over a four-week period ending on April 15, 2009, and delivered across a mix of 175 health and lifestyle websites reaching some two million consumers.

Of those who participated in the survey, 85.3% said they would have their DNA tested if they didn't have to pay for it, with only 14.6% reporting that they would not be tested irrespective of cost. With 84.5% indicating that they would get tested if their doctor simply offered the service, it is clear that price has little impact on the decision. With the dramatic reduction and enhanced breadth of DNA testing over the past year, the availability of more effective testing provides a new avenue for a healthcare system that is severely overstretched and facing reduced cost-cutting options.

Dr. Regan Carey, who led the analytics team for the Morefocus Group said, "We have been watching the changing attitudes in healthcare consumer perceptions since 2001. The introduction of commercial full body scans some five years ago, in spite of their relatively low cost, did not attract a high degree of consumer confidence. Wide availability of DNA testing has changed the paradigm. As the costs of DNA analysis have come down, and consumer confidence increased in line with privacy legislation, so have attitudes of both consumers and professionals swung to make testing a viable and effective tool for healthcare providers and consumers alike."

Cost savings for the healthcare industry is but one potential benefit of DNA testing, however. When asked how participants would react to results that showed a high risk for developing a cancer or disease, 70% indicated that they would consult a physician for information, and 49% indicated that they would take better care of themselves. Proactive physician visits and healthier lifestyles both contribute to a preventive care plan, which has been suggested as a long-term cost-cutting method for the U.S. healthcare industry.

Richar Scuderi MD PhD, a Morefocus consultant, said, "One of the most significant benefits of risk testing is awareness. There are always those who would rather not know. However, as longevity has increased, so a rapidly increasing percentage of the population are proactive in acting on preventative lifestyle changes."

Overall, 89.8% of participants agreed that DNA testing was a good idea. When asked why respondents would want to have their DNA tested, 48.5% indicated a desire to discover their risk for cancer and disease, and 23.7% responded that they would want to diagnose current health symptoms. Scuderi's comments were demonstrated through the, 91.6% who agreed with the sentiment, "It would be helpful to know if I've inherited a risk for a certain disease so I can try to prevent it." DNA testing provides this service

Further information and summary results of the DNA testing are available on request from morefocus or at http://www.FamilyHelix.com.

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Angela Bull
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