Monday, April 26, 2010

Clinical Genetics Institute celebrates its 5th birthday with an open house on May 3rd

Perspective from a medical geneticist

Hard to believe it’s been over 5 years since we opened our doors. I’m not one to rest on accomplishments or spend a lot of time looking backwards, but I think our early childhood has had some significant milestones—not to mention some teething pains!! I would highlight the inclusion of links to genetic information within our electronic health record resources; developing techniques for rapid technology assessment of emerging genetic tests which lead to the formation of the Genetic Testing Practice Council; initiation of Cancer Genetic Services that now serves LDS, IMED, McKay-Dee and Logan Regional Hospitals; deployment of a tumor based screening program for Lynch syndrome, electronic communication of genetic test results and a lot of work on the use of family history.


One of our goals for 2010 was to improve communication between the CGI and the outside world—and not just the Intermountain Healthcare world, but the entire world as it were. To this end we’ve been able to move our website outside the Intermountain firewall. If you’d like to see it go here. We’ve also started to use social media sites including Facebook and this blog. Anita Pascoe, our newest team member, has been doing some interesting work on web traffic. We hope to have more for you later in the year, potentially including some more posts on Grant’s genome. All of the team members have had the opportunity to present our work at a number of national and international meetings. Visit our website for more details about our various projects.


Amazingly enough we’ve had almost no turnover of our team. Cami Bills who was the program administrative assistant for three years left for a position that was a bit closer to her home but she remains a BFF of the CGI. Anita Pascoe joined the team 2 years ago and has been working hard on aspects of team building and communication. She has also become an invaluable part of other Intermountain Healthcare communication teams particular for research. Janet Williams now works as the Oncology Genetic Counselor and is running that program. She stays engaged with our team in development of our family history tools. We’ve also developed a close working relationship with members of the Homer Warner Center for Informatics Research, particularly Nathan Hulse and Peter Haug. This has been a fun and fruitful collaboration.

The Future

“Prediction is difficult, especially when it involves the future.” (That quote has been famously misattributed to Yogi Berra, George W. Bush, Dan Quayle and others. It was actually Niels Bohr the Nobel Prize-winning nuclear physicist.) That said, there are a number of exciting things for the CGI on the near horizon. First among these is the launch of our patient-entered family history tool which will go live on our patient portal in July. We are currently testing the tool’s user interface to work out some bugs, but the biggest opportunity to learn will be when the tool is exposed to the Intermountain patient population. We will be studying how patient’s interact with the tool (something that has not been done to a significant degree with other family history tools); what information is entered; how patients communicate information with their providers; and does it change health behavior. We are also going to be directly linking patient information about health conditions using infobuttons so users can download information about health conditions in themselves and their families.

We are also looking to establish electronic communication of genetic laboratory results from our largest referral laboratory. This could dramatically improve our ability to link information for the clinicians to the report which we think would help with interpretation. The biggest project will be to work with the team that is developing the new Clinical Information System to make sure that it has the capability of handling genetic and family history information. Lots of work to do—but that is the fun of genetics.


We hope that those of you in the Salt Lake area are able to stop in for our open house on May 3rd. See the flyer for details. Be sure to wear your designer genes!!

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