Today, the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA) together with the International Liaison of Pathology Presidents (ILPP), announces a new position statement highlighting the critical need for a substantial shift in healthcare practices due to the increasing use of modern genetic testing.
Modern genetic testing is rapidly transforming the principles and practices of healthcare and, as a growing number of patients, clinicians, laboratories and funders seek to obtain test results, the RCPA says that its integration into mainstream medicine represents both challenges and opportunities.
President of the RCPA, Associate Professor, Peter Stewart, says that genetic testing is a good example of circumstances that require a quantum shift, rather than an incremental adaptation, in healthcare practices in Australasia.
“Patients and clinicians are seeking genetic test results that are clinically useful and also cost-effective. We know that there are a higher number of tests and also types of genetic tests being requested than ever before.
“As the use of genetic testing increases, we strongly recommend that the implementation of modern genetic testing must be linked to explicit clinical care pathways, underpinned by an understanding of the costs and benefits associated with a particular test and its implications for clinical management,” says Stewart.
The RPCA says that the widespread introduction of genetic testing, and its integration with existing testing, will be compromised by:
- the limited understanding of genetics and the molecular pathology of disease by healthcare professionals;
- the relative lack of accredited and/or subject matter experts in clinical and laboratory molecular genetic pathology to guide its implementation; and
- the lack of coordinated policies for the implementation and funding of genetic testing.
“The traditional divisions between the specialties of pathology are being erased and an understanding of the molecular aspects of pathology is essential for all pathologists, senior clinical scientists, and laboratory professionals. There is also an increasing need for individuals in all of these roles with specialty expertise to ensure the correct interpretation and application of molecular data,” says Stewart.