Know Your Chances
GenID Solutions works to analyse and predict the possibility of patients developing hereditary cancersBy Akhil Cherian
Prevention is better than cure, goes the adage famously written across hospital corridors. This key philosophy of modern healthcare has paved the way for eradicating several vaccine-preventable diseases and increasing life expectancy. Trying to address the question of how to prevent cancer, though, has had doctors stumped for years now. A question that becomes all the more significant when you consider the fact that early detection of the disease can increase a patient’s chances of survival threefold. A startup from Silicon Valley is creating a revolution in the critical field of early cancer detection. GenID Solutions, founded in 2015, has developed a patent-pending algorithm which alerts doctors if their patients run a risk of developing cancer. The company is co-founded by Anita Singh, an ex- NASA engineer who has spent the last 10 years working in healthcare IT and serves as the company’s CEO, and Anand Singh, the Chief Medical Officer and ENT surgeon who has previously worked with two of the largest healthcare concierge services in the Bay Area. GenID Solutions works by integrating seamlessly with any certified Electronic Medical Record (EMR), and combing through patients’ medical records, to calculate their probability of developing hereditary cancer.
Ignorance isn’t always bliss
According to the company’s data, 1-3 per cent of Americans carry the genes for hereditary cancers, and they have up to an 80 per cent lifetime risk of getting cancer. Furthermore, the results from GenID ’s pilot run with Athenahealth—a cloudbased healthcare solution, and Project DNA—a team of 3 doctors based in Monterey, are an eye-opener. From the 1,334 charts scanned, the algorithm found that 1 out of every 5 patients needed to be further screened for cancer. This was done by “layering consumer genomics”, pulling structured data points from patients’ chart, and looking attheir first, second, and third degree relatives to analyse their probability of carrying hereditary cancer genes. And remarkably, on further testing, 75 per cent of the flagged patients were confirmed to carry the said genes. These numbers are twice the national statistics, which only analysed first degree relatives to conclude that 1 out of 10 Americans needed further testing. “When we started GenID Solutions, we were on a mission to identify the 10 per cnet of the general population that needed to be further screened. Now we are looking for the 20 per cent that needs to be further screened,” says Anita.
In the post-Theranos era, Silicon Valley may be cautious about investing in health technology startups, after the once $10-billion unicorn was charged with massive fraud by the SEC, leading to near bankruptcy twice and finally ceasing operations in August after The Wall Street Journal exposed the company’s purportedly revolutionary blood testing technology to be fake. But the accelerator and early-stage investor Startup Health, which funds more than 240 companies globally as ‘Health Transformers’ to improve healthcare and well being, is betting big on GenID Solutions, has made an undisclosed investment last April. For Startup Health, which has identified 10 health moonshots as part of its mission, GenID serves to realize its cancer mission, which is to end cancer as we know it. Speaking at its Health Moonshot Showcase earlier this year, Anita shared her vision: “We believe that by identifying these 60 million people [Americans], we can get them screened and we can start looking for ways to prevent hereditary cancer in not just these individuals but in their families as well.”
For this, the company is targeting to work with primary care physicians, oncologists, gastroenterologists, obstetricians, and gynecologists because these providers document a thorough family history of each patient, essential for the algorithm to function. Besides Athenahealth and Project DNA, GenIDSolutions recently signed a contract with EPIC Systems, another healthcare software company, giving it access to 79,000 healthcare providers and 51 percent of the US population. The advantage to providers in utilizing GenID’s system is that the technology, which is the only Genetic-Focused Clinical Decision support available in the market, can be seamlessly integrated with no training, additional logins or clicks required. Furthermore, it saves the doctor approximately 5 minutes per patient by automatically calculating their cancer risk analysis in the background, and only alerting the doctor, in real-time, if the patient needs further testing for hereditary cancers. And through data and innovation, GenID Solutions envisions identifying carriers of cancer genes and treating hereditary cancers like any other manageable disease, by enabling doctors to prescribe preventive genetic medicines and provide patients with the possibility of better healthcare outcomes.
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