“Telegenetics” has been gathering steam as patients in areas with limited or nonexistent medical geneticists utilize videoconferencing in order to conduct genetic consulting in a timely, practical and affordable manner. “We don’t have the workforce we need,” explains Sylvia Mann, director of the Western States Genetic Services Collaborative. Currently, Idaho has no clinical geneticists and Georgia has only three for its population of close to 10 million.
Because genetic services are largely based on counseling and visual inspection, virtual visits are an effective alternative to traveling extreme distances for consultations. More than 250 patients in Kansas have had virtual appointments with a geneticist in Arkansas and Georgia has been utilizing telegenetics since 1995. However, telegentics has not been universally embraced. Hans Andersson, director of the Hayword Genetics Center at Tulane University School of Medicine, explained “people think barriers are technical but another big piece is having the support on both sides.” Andersson explains that many geneticists cannot find willing doctor’s offices to work with on the other side.
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