Practitioners aren’t looking for the next fad or the newest shortcut. They’re looking for science-backed approaches as well as technology and tools they can leverage that will not only keep them competitive, but that will allow them to guide patients towards making better choices and living better lives.
But it’s hard to find a differentiator today, as practitioners are not only competing against one another for patient attention, but they’re also competing against websites, apps, and search engines that offer a DIY approach to healthcare.
It’s a powerful tool that provides insights into how a patient’s unique body functions.
There is a tool, however, that practitioners can use that will help them provide more personalized care to their patients: genetic testing. Genetic testing isn’t just for finding out one’s ancestry. It’s a powerful tool that provides insights into how a patient’s unique body functions, which practitioners can then use to create an actionable list of diet and lifestyle choices for their patients, in order to move them towards better health.
A new report on the “State of Genetic Testing & Nutrition” reveals how doctors focused on lifestyle, functional, or integrative medicine, and licensed nutritionists or dietitians are currently using genetic testing in their practices. Many practitioners are in fact already utilizing genetic testing to provide better care to their patients, and many readily see the value and benefits genetic testing results can provide to patients looking for solutions. But the report also shows that many practitioners have yet to see its advantages.
Leveraging the Usefulness of Genetic Testing
The ultimate goal of genetic testing is not the data, but how that data can be used to tell a more detailed story about how an individual’s physiological make-up can inform the lifestyle choices they make on a daily basis. It’s to help an individual better respond to the world around them, and to help an individual understand that their diet and lifestyle choices impact how their genes behave. But ultimately it’s up to the practitioners to be able to decipher the results and educate their patients on the best path forward.
Being able to understand how genes, diet, and lifestyle work together allows a practitioner to better advise on everyday lifestyle changes that will improve their patient’s wellness, diet, longevity, and more.
As such, genetic testing can bring value in a number of different ways to patients. According to the report, the top means by which genetic testing can bring value is through its ability to improve personalized treatment.
Practitioners also believe that genetic testing can bring value to their patients by predicting susceptibility to disease which can allow practitioners to create a plan for prevention. Genetic testing can also improve clinical assessment, as genetic testing rounds out clinical tests to help complete the assessment of a patient’s status and often acts as a screening tool. Genetic testing also informs functional testing as well, and can give insights into how a patient’s physiological system is working.
A Varied Outlook and an Opportunity for Education
Despite the value genetic testing can bring, only 33% of practitioners are actively using genetic testing in their practices. In fact, this lower number of adopters is a common theme that came up in the report: While some practitioners are actively using genetic testing, believe that it can improve health, wellness, and diet, and are confident in their ability to deliver actionable insights to their patients, some practitioners hold the opposite viewpoint, believing that genetic testing provides no value at all.
Why the variance of outlook? It’s because genetic testing in and of itself simply returns a set of data. It’s what the practitioner does with that data that makes the difference.
It seems that the practitioners who see the value in what genetic testing offers to the patient are those who know how to interpret the results and create an actionable plan of diet and lifestyle improvement for their patients. The practitioners who don’t see the value in genetic testing may be those who don’t yet know how to maximize the value of the results for their patients.
Learning the benefits of genetic testing and how to offer personalized results requires a few steps, but will ultimately benefit your patients and your practice.The first step is learning more about the value of genetic testing and how to interpret results for the benefit of the patient.
Investigating genetic testing and its benefits will also address a lot of the misconceptions that may have led practitioners to answer that they felt genetic testing brought no value, and would never use it.
Practitioners wanting to adopt genetic testing into their practice should also learn more about how the science behind genetic testing works, who the lab is and how they function, how they handle DNA, and what genes they include in their report, and why. Practitioners also need an understanding of the science that informs the recommendations behind the test results.
Knowing the “behind the scenes” of how genetic testing works will increase trust and confidence in the whole process.
Next, practitioners need to be able to translate the results for their patients, and offer actionable insights. That’s when genetic testing becomes real: When practitioners can offer their patients a blueprint for how their bodies work, and guide them towards a healthier lifestyle. Practitioners who are already knowledgeable about how to offer these insights can help practitioners new to the space come to understand the wealth of insights genetic tests can bring.
This idea of mentorship and community is key, as it offers practitioners who are new to genetics testing the ability to see the benefits it brings, ask questions, understand use cases, and gain more awareness of how expansive a tool it can be.
Once a practitioner starts building up their knowledge and experience about genetic testing, they’ll find that they have a new, powerful tool that will help them care for their patients. This will be the differentiator that gives them an edge when it comes to patient care.