By Lori Solomon, Editor, Diagnostic Testing & Emerging Technologies
Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of Michigan and the University of Michigan Health System are collaborating with physicians and laboratories across the state to improve molecular testing practices. The Genetic Testing Resource and Quality Consortium (GTRQC), a quality improvement initiative, hopes to empower medical professionals with tools to better determine whether genetic testing should be used and which test(s) will most improve patient outcomes.
“This initiative will develop evidence-based guidelines to help physicians and their patients make important decisions about whether or not to get tested and, when testing is indicated, which tests will best meet their health needs and goals,” said David Share, M.D., senior vice president of value partnerships at BCBS of Michigan, in a press release.
Driven by the “exponential growth” in genetic testing, GTRQC aims to improve the quality of care—both at the point of test ordering and in the laboratory—by evaluating and disseminating best practices for ordering and performing clinically-actionable tests. Part of these efforts is aimed at educating providers.
The level of expertise needed to interpret available tests, which is “beyond that of most clinician’s training,” the group says; “scattered” resources to aid clinicians; and reimbursement issues stemming to a lack of certainty surrounding the appropriateness and utility of available tests, are all contributing to a chaotic environment where ordering practices are not necessarily backed up by evidence. GTRQC’s program goals are to: identify which tests are clinically actionable and discourage use of those which don’t demonstrate clinical utility and to improve the quality of molecular diagnostic testing by establishing best practices for ordering and running of clinically-indicated tests.
“We’re recruiting participants now, and then we’ll start the process of reviewing medical literature, clinical protocols, and patient data to determine the most appropriate tests,” said David Keren, M.D., co-clinical director of the initiative and director of clinical pathology at the University of Michigan Health System, in a press release. “We’ll then focus on making sure the right tests are performed the right way, at the right time, for the right patient and for the right reasons.”
The initiative will include a wide variety of providers, including pathologists, genetic counselors, primary care, and specialist physicians. To support the stated goals, the consortium will develop patient educational materials; evaluate and/or develop guidelines and clinical decision support tools for physicians to determine test appropriateness; evaluate and/or develop laboratory protocols to determine best testing methodology for high-quality results; use patient outcomes to determine best practices in the use of molecular versus conventional testing; and develop a comprehensive, user-friendly database for physicians and laboratories to access all evidence related to a particular molecular diagnostic test. The effort is being funded by BCBS Michigan.