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.