Fearing “Too Much Information,” Clinicians Hesitate on Genomics

Deer Headlights StampDespite all the scientific excitement about the promise of personalized medicine—and all the colorful marketing of genetic test systems—holistic physicians have been slow to embrace genomics in their practices.

According to Holistic Primary Care’s 2017 practitioner survey, which obtained responses from more than 660 clinicians, only 38% are currently using genomic testing. An additional 23% say they plan to begin incorporating it soon. But surprisingly, 39% say they have absolutely no plan to utilize genomics.

Concern about an overload of useless data was common among the respondents, cited by 47%. Many (34%) are also concerned about patients using genome and self-tracking tools to make wrong self-diagnoses.

The lukewarm embrace of genomic testing echoes a broader pattern of non-engagement with leading edge healthcare technology.  Only 23% of respondents currently use teleconsultation platforms, 16% employ tracking or “Quantified Self” tools with patients, and 19% use smartphone based diagnostic tools.

Even simple things like online schedulers (31%) are surprisingly underutilized.

While 55% currently use EMR systems, many only do so because they are required by their employers, insurance plans, or the networks that own their clinics.

Contrary to the popular notion that all Millennials are born with silicon spoons in their mouths, the survey showed few significant age differences. Millennial practitioners are no more likely than their older colleagues to be utilizing EMRs or patient self-tracking tools, and only slightly more likely to do teleconsults or use online scheduling systems.

Those in the 30-40 age bracket were actually less likely than the 50-60 year olds to utilize genomics (40% vs 45%).

In short, Silicon Valley has yet to win over the hearts and minds of many holistic practitioners.

Though data overload was a common worry, it was definitely not the only reason clinicians have been slow to jump on the high-tech train.

Other concerns include: security and confidentiality of patients’ sensitive data; intrusiveness of technology in the relationship with patients; questions about accuracy and reliability of new technologies; lack of appropriate regulation; inadequate training; perceived lack of patient interest; and lack of insurance coverage & compensation for time.

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