As the field of genetics becomes more and more defined and much more advanced, the world of clinical genetics is becoming larger as well. Clinical genetics is the medical applications of human genetics. This can include, but is not limited to gene therapy, personalized medicine, as well as the up-and-coming predictive medicine. It all sounds well and exciting. However, the health industry has two purposes. Yes, they are to be concerned for the well-being of their patients, but they also have to worry about their bottom line. And what does this all mean for the health industry’s bottom line. Can clinical genetics really save money for the health industry? The answer is that it can. Gene therapy and predictive medicine both can save money for the health industry.
Gene therapy is perhaps the most cost-effective of the three. Gene therapy is the replacement of faulty genes with effective ones. This has not been perfected yet, but it is showing promise. It would be most applicable to diseases that are hereditary and can be pinned down to only a few genes. It is predicted however, that this therapy would be over $100,000. When most families have not ever seen that much money at once in their lives, this potentially life-saving therapy seems out of reach. But what it if were covered by the health industry? It is in the health industry’s best interest. To illustrate the ratio, take a look at Hemophilia A. It is a hereditary disease with very few genes involved and one of the diseases being looked into for gene therapy. Cure it for a $100,000? Well, considering that today’s current treatment, depending on the severity of the disease and the size of the patient reaches easily $1,000,000 in two years if not one, the cost-benefit ratio points to clinical genetics.
Predictive medicine is also in the health industry’s favor. One of the most silent cancers is ovarian cancer, on which Medicare spends almost $40,000 per Medicare patient per year—more than any other cancer. Early detection in ovarian cancer is key, and could easily reduce these costs if ovarian cancer is treated before the cancer has metastasized by making simple removal of the tumor possible. If predictive medicine is used, a patient can easily be tested for susceptibilities to ovarian cancer to gauge how much attention needs to be given to it.
It seems that too often, the health industry does not support something with the claim that they need to protect their bottom line, when the facts clearly support their bottom line. If the health industry wants to save millions or even billions of dollars each year, the logical response is to support clinical genetics. It saves lives and dollars.