TRANSPERS Contributes Two Paper to Health Affairs Theme Issue; Reported Today in Washington Post

The preeminent policy journal Health Affairs published their first ever issue devoted to Precision Medicine today, and TRANSPERS Founding Director Kathryn Phillips will be presenting at the Health Affairs Press Briefing in Washington DC on May 8. Lead Author, Kathryn Phillips, was also interviewed for an article in the Washington Post regarding the study: Medicine’s Wild West: 10 new genetic tests enter the market each day.

Several TRANSPERS collaborators and colleagues contributed to this issue. TRANSPERS faculty Kathryn Phillips (UCSF) and Pat Deverka (AIR) collaborated with Gillian Hooker of Concert Genetics to examine the rapid growth of genetic test availability and spending. Genetic Test Availability And Spending: Where Are We Now? Where Are We Going? examined test availability and spending for the full spectrum of genetic tests, using unique data sources on test availability and commercial payer spending for privately insured populations.

Our results provide insights for those interested in assessing genetic testing markets, test usage, and health policy implications, including current debates over the most appropriate regulatory and payer coverage mechanisms.

We found that there were over 75,000 genetic tests on the market, with about ten new tests entering the market daily. Panels with multiple genes accounted for the largest amount of spending. Within clinical domains, prenatal tests accounted for the highest percentage of spending and spending on hereditary cancer tests accounted for the second-highest.

This rapid growth is being fueled by expanding demand and a drop in sequencing costs. However, whether this growth is sustainable and how it can be managed requires attention to a range of issues: variable insurer coverage and high patient costs, a fragmented lab industry, evolving regulatory structures, and a lack of public registries. There is a need for more specific CPT coding and greater use of existing codes for multigene tests as well as data sharing across sectors.

In addition, Kathryn Phillips co-wrote the theme issue's lead paper with lead author Geoff Ginsburg (Duke): Precision Medicine: From Science to Value. Kathryn also served as the theme advisor/guest editor by participating in the development of the issue, from conception to completion.