Does Genome Sequencing Increase Downstream Medical Costs?
As genome sequencing enters the clinic, fears have arisen about its potential to motivate follow-up testing and ongoing screening that could drastically increase health care spending. But few studies have quantified the downstream costs of returning genetic information to patients, especially in apparently healthy individuals. The MedSeq Project, led by investigators at Brigham Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, is the first randomized trial to provide whole genome sequencing to both healthy individuals and to patients with a known cardiology issue. As part of this pilot study, the investigators analyzed both the immediate costs of sequencing itself, as well as downstream spending six months after genetic information was returned to physicians and their patients. The research team found that downstream costs did not significantly differ between patients who had received whole genome sequencing and those that did not. The team’s findings are reported today in Genetics in Medicine, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics