2014-07-08

Co.Exist

This Startup Will Make You A Personalized Health Plan Based On Your Genes

A new startup is spending millions of dollars on a dashboard that lets doctors build health plans for patients based on their DNA.

When the FDA ordered 23andMe to stop giving customers medical information based on their DNA, they unintentionally opened a new market niche. The rapidly declining cost of genomic analysis means more and more companies can offer DNA analysis services for the consumer market. One new company, BaseHealth, is betting customers will like their proposition: A 23andMe-like platform where doctors have access to their patients’ genomic data and build personalized medicine plans for their clients.

BaseHealth’s core product, GenoPhen, is a platform for doctors to create customized patient health care plans. When a physician opens Genophen, the program’s dashboard integrates 23andMe-like data from the patient’s DNA analysis, information from patients regarding personal health history and family history, and information from patients’ quantified-self devices like Fitbit.

"Existing health assessment platforms out there do not support personalized action plans. If you explain the risk for a disease or condition to an individual without a personalized action plan from our platform, you're not getting that level of engagement," says BaseHealth’s CEO Hossen Fakhrai-Rad.

With BaseHealth's platform, both doctors and patients play an important role. Clinical data is input by a doctor, nurse, or assistant, while the company works with a certified lab to do the genotyping or whole genome sequencing. With all the information, doctors meet with the patient to deliver a personalized health assessment, which the patient can only access after a direct consultation. "They see risk factors for certain diseases and receive action plans from the doctor. After consultation, physicians gives patients full access to the platform and full engagement," Fakhrai-Rad says.

Once a patient gives saliva or blood samples to their physician, the samples are processed by one of the company’s partners. Six to eight weeks later, the patient’s physician has access to their dashboard data, which combines the genomic testing with data points for risk factors like alcohol consumption, BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol, nutrition, physical activity, family history, and past cigarette use.

So far, BaseHealth has raised $6.3 million from investors. Both Fakhrai-Rad and CTO Prakash Menon emphasize their product's preventative aspects. Patients can see how a lifestyle change such as losing 30 pounds or quitting smoking will change their health and how treatment options for different diseases they are at risk of developing could affect their prognosis. "We're contextual; we put another layer of context on things," Menon says.

And by aiming their genomics dashboard at medical professionals rather than patients curious about their future cancer or Alzheimer’s risk, BaseHealth is steering clear of one of 23andMe’s biggest points of contention with the FDA. Instead of setting up a situation with unclear consequences where patients are given life-altering medical information through their inbox, BaseHealth instead is using the much smarter approach of doctor as coach and mediator.

Update: This article has been corrected to make clear that Genophen does not currently include electronic medical record integration, that integration is currently for Fitbit only, and that genotyping/genome sequencing work is done by the company's partners. The company says electronic medical record integration is planned for the future.

[Image: Abstract via Shutterstock]

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4 Comments

  • We can just poo-poo this idea or we can focus on fleshing it out to make it more effective as time goes on.

    ROLMD's comment is exactly the point. You can't make "home improvements" without first reviewing the blueprints. Your genetic makeup is the missing baseline needed toward creating a personalized health plan. Establish the baseline and then one can more accurately measure other influences on your genetic makeup. But you need a baseline to work from first. Environmental influences can't be measured without a baseline.

    We are bombarded daily with what to eat and how to exercise but none of this advice takes into consideration a person's genetic makeup. In reality, all of this advice is pretty pointless when it does not factor in an individual's genetic baseline.

    No new idea answers all of the questions in the beginning but creating a genetic makeup baseline is the right first step. Since I'm already a 23andMe user I would love to explore this idea.

  • rdlmd

    Genes are akin to the blueprint of a house, which will not tell you how well it is built, modified, maintained or damaged. I have been helping patient's understand their genomic information from several sources for over 6 years. The Genophen platform does the best job I have seen in integrating genomics with laboratory data, lifestyle and physical findings to help patients prioritize interventions for reducing the risk of chronic disease. . Lifestyle and diet can alter the expression of genes and often overcome their influence on health outcomes. The Genophen platform does a good job of informing patients and their physicians on how manage this information to do the right thing. "It's not your genes, it's what you do with them".

  • No mention in the article and presumably in the plan of this company about the interaction of the environment with genes nor of the growing field of epigenetics. Genes do not operate in a vacuum. Genes are not destiny. The huge potential here for abuse, the continuation of the sorry history in the U.S. and elsewhere of eugenics is obvious and ignored. "Doctor as coach and mediator"? Ha, when droves are people are leaving reductionist Western medicine for the types of medicines and acknowledge the complexities of human beings and when a large percentage of physicians, dentists, etc. base their decisions on income rather than on what the person truly needs. We need first to build a medical system that integrates all parts of the body - dental, vision, body, feet, etc. i.e. dental, vision, medical, podiatry, etc. Then we can consider looking at genes. But this idea is all about money, not really about advancing whole body integrative medical care.