Do it for your genome
5 Reasons Why Your Functional Medicine Practice Needs to Include Genetic Testing
Genetic testing is the future of better patient care, but only if you're willing to take these important steps to get there.- March 2021
Genetic testing is the future of better patient care. While genetic testing might have grown in popularity as a way to find out more about your ancestry, it’s actually a valuable tool practitioners can use to give them unique insights into how a patient’s body functions and how their everyday diet and lifestyle choices affect their health. Practitioners can use genetic test results to guide their patients on a path towards longevity and wellness — if they know how to properly interpret the results.
A new report on the “State of Genetic Testing & Nutrition” looks at how healthcare practitioners — doctors focused on lifestyle, functional, or integrative medicine, and licensed nutritionists or dietitians — understand the benefits of genetic testing and are utilizing it with their patients.
The report shows an interesting split. While many practitioners are indeed using genetic testing — 33% actively use genetic testing in their practice — and while many practitioners see the value it can bring to patients, how it can improve health and wellness, and even give them a competitive advantage, many practitioners still don’t use testing, and many are skeptical it has anything to offer.
What this split really suggests is not a fault with the testing itself, but rather a difference in how results are interpreted and used to help patients. There are those who use genetic testing and have seen the beneficial impact it can make on their patients’ lives, and there are those who don’t yet see the benefits of genetic testing.
5 Reasons to Integrate Genetic Testing
The truth is that genetic testing offers an incredible advantage for practitioners, and provides a wide range of value for patients. Here are five reasons why you need to include genetic testing in your practice.
#1: It Enables More Personalized Treatment
Genetic testing is only as good as the actionable insights practitioners can extract from it. According to the report, the biggest value genetic testing offers is that it allows practitioners to improve their ability to provide personalized treatment. Having an understanding of how someone’s genetic make-up informs their health can fill in knowledge gaps for the practitioner, allowing them to provide more informed, unique recommendations.
#2: It Provides Different Types of Value
Genetic testing can also give insight into possible susceptibility for future disease, and help practitioners set up preventative care action plans for their patients. Similarly, it can serve as a screening tool. Genetic testing can also improve clinical assessment, as a practitioner can pair genetic testing with other tests to gain a more complete picture of their patient. It can also give insight into functional testing as well, since genes inform both physiological and psychological function. Genetic testing can also help a practitioner choose better medication and supplements for their patients, based on how their bodies will respond. Practitioners can leverage all these different insights to better help their patients.
#3: Patients are Asking About It
Another reason to incorporate genetic testing is because patients are asking about it. According to the report, 29% of patients are asking “very often” about getting genetic tests, with an additional 23% of practitioners saying that patients were asking “often.” This means that patients know the benefits it can bring, and are being more proactive when it comes to taking charge of their own health. Additionally, 31% of respondents noticed an increase in the frequency of patients asking about genetic testing, which means that it’s becoming something patients are now looking for their practitioner to offer.
#4: It Provides Improvements to Health, Wellness, and Diet
Our genes affect how our bodies respond to the world around us, and each diet and lifestyle decision we make affects the expression or behavior of our genes. This means that there’s a tight connection with how understanding a patient’s genetic make-up can help them make better diet and lifestyle choices that can improve their health, especially when it comes to diet. Understanding how genetics plays a role in nutrition could be the missing piece many patients are looking for.
#5: It Increases Your Competitive Advantage
Finally, you should include genetic testing as part of your practice because it’ll give you a competitive advantage over other practitioners who aren’t offering the kinds of insights you are. This can give you a differentiating factor in your field, help bring in new patients, and help increase revenue.
Increasing the Adoption of Genetic Testing
When asked how they view the future of genetic testing in their practice, 39% of practitioners believe they’ll utilize it more, and give genetic testing a bigger role. But there were still some barriers to offering genetic testing, specifically around the desire for more education and training on how to integrate genetics into their practice, as well how to translate a genetic test.
There are a few different things you can do to start integrating genetic testing into your practice.
First, learn more about the insights genetics can offer, and begin to counter any misconceptions you may have about them. Learn more about the value genetics can bring to your patients, and how it can help you become a better healthcare provider.
Next, learn more about the labs doing the testing, the science behind the testing, and how they’re handling the DNA. Learn more about which genes they’re testing and why, as well as how they handle their data. More transparency will give practitioners more confidence in understanding the process behind genetic testing, as well as increasing their trust in it.
Finally, learn from other practitioners who have successfully integrated genetic testing into their practice. Learn how they create actionable insights for their patients, guiding them to a better life. Having a community allows newcomers to the space to ask questions, learn best practices, and to hear more stories about how genetic testing can change lives.
There are many benefits to incorporating genetics testing into your practice, but only if you’re willing to take the steps to do it.