Corewell's free gene panel pilot program begins as new key to preventative care

A new pilot program is offering a gene panel screening to some patients for free.

"It gives you little insight into where patient risk, 10 years, 20 years now or what problems might develop," said Dr Stephen Williams, Corewell Health, Troy.

Corewell Health recently just launched the new hospital-funded program to offer gene panel screening to current patients at no cost.

"We’re conducting on basically 1,000 patients here at Corewell Health based on our commitment to improving population health," said Dr. Ramin Homayouni, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine.

The goal of the screening is to detect genes linked to treatable medical conditions like cancer and heart disease.

"I think this is one of the most important, new diagnostic technologies that I will see in my lifetime," said Dr. Williams.

Corewell patients are sent an invitation to participate and if they agree they receive a test kit.

"The patient was sent a saliva sample collection kit to their home," Dr. Julie Zenger Hain, Corewell Health Dearborn.

Once completed, the samples goes to a lab and then doctors are able to review the results of nearly 200 actionable genes they can do something about, which can lead to better medical outcomes for the patient

"I think this is as important as the development of the X-ray and laboratory medicine, and even the stethoscope," said Williams.

The program also offers genetic counseling for patients.

"The results reviewed and an explanation significance of the negative or positive results," said Hain.

Doctors say what’s also beneficial about the screening, is that it provides information about the patient’s family.

"And (it shows) what they might be at risk for, and so you can alert people decades earlier," Williams said.

But ultimately this program allows doctors to provide preventative care and early intervention when needed.

"But now we can find the early signs and warn patients about certain conditions before they ever appear," Williams said.