Angela R. Bradbury, MD, on Telemedicine in Genetic Counseling

May 19, 2020

The associate professor of Medicine spoke about the use of of telemedicine in genetic counseling before the COVID-19 pandemic, how it is used today, and how telemedicine may be utilized in this space moving forward.

In an interview with CancerNetwork®, Angela R. Bradbury, MD, associate professor of Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, discussed the use of telemedicine in genetic counseling before the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, how it is used today, and how the integration of telemedicine can be utilized moving forward.

“We were exploring two different modalities as alternatives to meeting with a genetic counselor or provider face to face prior to COVID, some was using telephone and using real time video conferencing,” said Bradbury. “At the time it was just one less visit, it was easier for a patient to schedule, patients reported greater convenience and ability to do this from a private area in their workplace or a private area at home.”

Bradbury explained that the purpose of studying the different modalities in this space was to address the issue of many patients not getting genetic testing because they can’t get in to see a counselor at all. By utilizing telehealth in this space, she indicated that they were able to reach a broader population more efficiently, regardless of the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic did not markedly alter the way Bradbury and her team were practicing, and really only changed the location of where their telehealth visits were occurring. However, Bradbury indicated that the transition wasn’t as easy for every group of genetic counselors. 

“For other counseling teams that have been used to seeing patients face to face, that is a bigger stretch for them,” Bradbury said. “It does take some different skill building to be doing telehealth visits.” 

Bradbury suggested that a lot of fear currently surrounds in-person visits for some patients, and telemedicine in this space has provided a great alternative for all genetic counselors.

“Patients right now are often very uncertain about coming in to some health settings,” said Bradbury. “But with telehealth, you know, patients may not want to come in to meet with a counselor for genetic testing, it’s just not the highest priority for them right now. But they are certainly comfortable doing it from their homes, so that’s provided a really great opportunity during this period.” 

This segment comes from the CancerNetwork® portion of the MJH Life Sciences National Broadcast, airing daily on all MJH Life Sciences channels.