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Genetic counseling services interpret the meaning of direct to consumer (DTC) genetic tests for clients, explaining the complex scientific reports in easy-to-understand language.
What's in this Guide?
- About My Gene Counsel
- About Ambry Genetics
- Services Offered by My Gene Counsel
- Genetic Counseling Cost
- Signing up for My Gene Counsel and Using the Platform
- My Gene Counsel and Data Security & Privacy
- Why My Gene Counsel Is Important
- My Gene Counsel Reviews
Disclaimer: Before You Read
It is important to know that your genes are not your destiny. There are various environmental and genetic factors working together to shape you. No matter your genetic makeup, maintain ideal blood pressure and glucose levels, avoid harmful alcohol intake, exercise regularly, get regular sleep. And for goodness sake, don't smoke.
Genetics is a quickly changing topic. Read More...
They not only help consumers understand the meaning and validity of their personal genetic information but also advise them on when to follow up with their doctors about a health risk.
They also warn clients when a genetic test does not take into account the latest research on genetic science and provide guidance on many practical issues, ranging from getting health insurance to asking for patient advocacy.
Here at Your DNA, we will review a leading Genetic Counseling Service called My Gene Counsel to give our readers a broader understanding of how genetic counseling can help them interpret their reports from popular direct to consumer genetic testing services.
About My Gene Counsel
The value of genetic testing depends on understanding all the facts. Since these change as science advances, My Gene Counsel offers customers a Living Lab Report® that allows them to stay abreast of the most current information in the ever-changing world of genetic research.
Certified genetic counselors with over 30 years of clinical experience in both genetic counseling and testing founded My Gene Counsel, a HIPAA- compliant digital resource and a one-stop shop for those seeking an in-depth understanding of their personal genetic testing results.
What Does My Gene Counsel Do?
As a digital health company, My Gene Counsel gives direct patients — and indirect clients from enterprise partners — web-based and mobile-friendly counseling reports, which they call a Living Lab Report.
Written in plain English by genetic counselors and reviewed by medical experts and patient advocates, these comprehensive genetic reports make genetic science easier to understand for those unfamiliar with industry nomenclature 1.
These specialized reports give specific solutions, offer genetic guidance, or provide critical genetic research updates. They shed light on what could be an obscure subject because misinterpretation of genetic data can be harmful.
For example, an erroneous genetic diagnosis could lead to expensive invasive surgeries that neither address the real medical condition nor prevent the onset of an inherited disease 2.
With decades of genetic experience behind them, the authors of Living Lab Reports help clients make informed decisions about treatment options and medical plans. Physicians alone cannot help their patients as effectively for a simple reason — they are not genetic experts and rarely have the time to research the latest peer-reviewed genetic science studies.
About Ambry Genetics
My Gene Counsel has partnered with Ambry Genetics, a clinical and diagnostic company. Together, the two firms provide clients with a broader menu of services.
Specifically, the My Gene Counsel-Ambry business liaison provides customers with a one-stop solution, expanding consulting services to include direct to consumer genetic testing based on medical-grade testing standards. High-quality genetic testing facilities allow this partnership to offer testing and counseling for sensitive issues like a client’s high-risk for inherited forms of cancer.
Established in 1999, Ambry Genetics, a leader in clinical diagnostic software solutions, is part of the Konica Minolta group. This genetic testing company provides a molecular diagnostics market with new technologies and precision medicine.
Services Offered by My Gene Counsel
My Gene Counsel’s Gene provides its members with a personalized Living Lab Report.
Here are some of the features and benefits of these specialized reports:
Features of the Reports
- Clinical genetic experts author these reports and patient advocates review them for accuracy 3.
- The reports are specific, discussing individual gene variants.
- An independent third party, not a genetic testing company, reviews the accuracy of the genetic information in the reports.
- The report translates complex genetic terms and concepts into language health care providers and patients find easy to understand.
- The report shares the latest information on genetics based on the latest research findings.
Benefits of the Reports
First, it helps patients understand the meaning of their genetic test results.
Second, it helps them test their options about what medical steps to take.
Third, it explains to family members the meaning and implications of the results.
Genetic Counseling Cost
My Gene Counsel offers clients a few free subscriptions to their services. After this initial trial, they base a client’s genetic counseling cost on the type of genetic test and counseling needs.
After receiving a free Living Lab Report to understand their genetic issues, a client may book a free 30-minute telephone consultation with a certified genetic counselor. The session will determine if the client needs more testing through a medical-grade laboratory like Ambry Genetics because the client has a genetic-based health risk.
If clients order a medical-grade test, My Gene Counsel will assist with navigating health insurance payments by discussing the case and costs with the client’s health insurance company. If the client's testing is covered by their health insurance, then they will pay nothing out of pocket.
If the insurance company does not provide coverage, then out-of-pocket costs are usually less than $100. If the costs are higher, then My Gene Counsel may direct them to their Patient Financial Assistance Program.
This program is designed for patients who cannot afford comprehensive genetic grade testing but need it to determine their medical options.
Signing up for My Gene Counsel and Using the Platform
You can sign up for My Gene Counsel by creating an account in the customer registration portal. After you select your payment plan, you’ll receive an email in your inbox asking you to verify your contact information.
After you confirm your email, go to their website, upload your genetic DTC testing report, and fill out an online form to request your Living Lab Report. Once My Gene Counsel has received your request, it will design a report specifically for you.
This report will answer all your questions about your genetic test, insurance options, family planning, and so on. The report will also list out all the resources available to you for personal genetic counseling sessions, patient advocacy, further genetic testing, etc.
You can download a PDF version, print it out, and share it with your doctor and your family.
My Gene Counsel and Data Security & Privacy
My Gene Counsel follows standard security and privacy policies. They will not sell, license, or transfer your personal data to any third parties for marketing or advertising purposes.
But under certain circumstances, they may share your personal data without informing you.
They may share your personal data with your clinician if requested to facilitate any medical treatments or share it to comply with legal requirements, such as a court order.
Why My Gene Counsel Is Important
While a genetic test can help you estimate your risk for certain medical issues, it does not guide you on what to do. For instance, if you learn that you are at risk for late-onset Alzheimer’s, it will not tell you what to do with this information.
However, by working with genetic counselors, who will prepare a Living Lab Report for you, you will have a clear understanding of your options. These may include suggestions about preventative medicine, lifestyle changes, environmental factors, medical management, patient advocacy, and health insurance.
Besides helping you figure out what to do if you receive an alarming genetic diagnosis that could affect you and your family, My Gene Counsel can also pinpoint any inaccuracies in your genetic tests. It’s not uncommon for direct-to-consumer genetic tests to incorrectly identify a disease risk.
Misclassification of variants and false-positive results can lead to high anxiety and unnecessary medical procedures 4. If a genetic counselor at My Gene Counsel suspects errors in the report, they can arrange for you to get medical-grade testing through Ambry Genetics or other clinical laboratories.
My Gene Counsel Reviews
Customer reviews are a great way to see how others who have used the service feel about the company and its products. Here are two reviews by My Gene Counsel genetic testing consumers:
Sarah C.shared the following story:
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40 and found to carry a variant of uncertain significance in BRCA1. The VUS left me and my family in a terrible position.
Should I have my ovaries removed? What would this mean for my daughter? We later learned that the VUS had been reclassified as a benign finding. Receiving this update from My Gene Counsel was critical to my management and that of my family members.”
Another patient, Georgia Hurst shared this information in her My Gene Counsel review :
“My Gene Counsel has created an exceptionally useful digital tool for all of us with Lynch syndrome. I believe it will be the greatest tool in one’s arsenal, whether they are previvor or cancer survivor.”
With an increase in public interest in genetics testing, direct to consumer (DTC) genetic testing services have become increasingly popular. These consumer genomic tests offer personalized genetic information on a variety of popular themes, like phenotypic traits and ancestry.
They may also offer personalized genetic health care information, like a person’s predictable response to specific drugs, their autosomal recessive disease carrier status, or their risk of developing certain health conditions.
The direct-to-consumer genomics market has opened up a whole new world for people about how genes influence destiny.
Although clients can get genetic testing directly through clinics, they can also get it indirectly by using home-testing kits. People who sign up for any DNA test online can receive home-testing kits.
After they swab the inside of their cheeks or provide a saliva sample, they send their samples to medical genetic testing companies for a report.
These home tests often give consumers access to genetic information they would not have received otherwise — perhaps because of a lack of health insurance coverage, or prohibitive medical costs, or inaccessibility to tests requiring test-takers to have a medical family history of a disease.
While much of this information — like ancestry research and phenotypic traits — is entertaining, sometimes genetic testing can reveal medical information that bewilders consumers. If properly interpreted and acted on, it could be lifesaving.
However, a genetic test could be grossly inaccurate, leading to anxiety and unnecessary medical procedures.
Unfortunately, many problems arise when people receive information about a health condition outside of a medical setting.
First, they may not understand the technical description of the genetic information.
Second, they may feel upset and helpless to learn that they have a genetic predisposition to get a certain disease. For instance, if a client has taken a BRCA gene test, a blood test to identify mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2, it may alarm them to know that the test showed a harmful change in one of these breast cancer susceptibility genes.
They may not know what to do with this information.
The opposite may also happen. A client may not know how serious a genetic test is because they don’t know how to read it properly.
According to a research article in the Journal of Genetic Counsel, many women who take a BRCA gene test misinterpret test results 5. When told that their BRCA test results are negative, they misinterpret this to mean there is no genetic component of breast cancer in their family line.
Third, they may have received incorrect information, a false positive reading, and as a result embarked on a long, painful, and expensive medical journey.
The role of companies like My Gene Counsel is to end the confusion. Certified genetic counselors provide reports in plain English that interpret genetic test results.
If they suspect a misinterpretation of genetic information, they can recommend medical grade testing to establish the facts. And if a person does have a serious genetic diagnosis, they can provide guidance on options and resources.
This advice might also include practical information about insurance or patient advocacy. Sometimes, too, since genetic science is advancing at a rapid rate, counseling might include updating attending physicians or primary caregivers about the latest medical research on a genetic condition.
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- National Society of Genetic Counselors: Who Are Genetic Counselors?
- What Are the Risks and Limitations of Genetic Testing?
Genetics Home Reference. 2019.
- Patient Advocates’ Role Expands to Meet Healthcare’s Increasingly Complex Demands. Modern Healthcare. January 12, 2019.
- Identification of Misclassified ClinVar Variants via Disease Population Prevalence.
Shah, Naisha, Ying-Chen Claire Hou, Hung-Chun Yu, Rachana Sainger, C. Thomas Caskey, J. Craig Venter, and Amalio Telenti. 2018.
- Female Family Members Lack Understanding of Indeterminate Negative BRCA1/2 Test Results Shared by Probands.
Himes, Deborah O, Deborah K Gibbons, Wendy C Birmingham, Renea L Beckstrand, Amanda Gammon, Anita Y Kinney, and Margaret F Clayton. 2019.