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Published on March 19, 2018

variety of medications and bottles

GeneFolio Helps With a Wide Range of Challenges

A night-and-day difference: That’s what Avera’s GeneFolio® is providing patients who take the simple blood test that gives their doctor a wealth of information about what medications will work best, based on their specific genetic make-up.

From treating pain to high cholesterol to finding the best possible medicine for depression, GeneFolio is a noteworthy new tool in health care.

Kimberlee McKay, MD, Avera Medical Group obstetrics/gynecology physician, said she used the test to help a mom-to-be who had experienced significant pain after the birth of her first child. GeneFolio showed that her body metabolized the most-common pain medication in such a way that it did little to help.

“There are pain medications that tend to work well for almost all patients, but there are outliers and exceptions,” McKay said.

Using the information from the test, McKay identified an alternative drug. As a result, the difference between her first delivery and her second were “night and day.”

“It’s something that more and more patients are beginning to ask for and to recognize as ‘out there’ as a tool,” said McKay. “This is especially true for patients who have had a bad experience and want to avoid repeating them.”

Avera Medical Group family medicine physician Andrea Miller, DO said the GeneFolio test was an important part of care for a patient who used a number of medications to treat several chronic conditions.

“My patient was suffering from frequent falls, and when we had the workup done with GeneFolio, we were able to gauge the dosages at which we could bring some of the medication back into her treatment,” she said. “The test was a great step for us to take as it helped us look more closely at the blood-pressure medication and the other drugs she needed. GeneFolio provided us a clear picture of the best approach.”

Carilyn Van Kalsbeek, MD, Avera Medical Group family medicine physician said her patients who have received the information from GeneFolio find it approachable. It’s not overly jargon-laden or too much for them.

“I’ve had patients who had GeneFolio testing and went on to use that information in a wide variety of cases, including later hospitalizations where pain medication was used,” she said. “Diabetic patients, or those who need multiple medications – they can get a better idea of how their body metabolizes the chemicals that make up their medications.

It can help them not just with a health challenge they currently face, but in situations down the road as well. As one patient told me, ‘Your genes don’t change.’ It shows that as we provide innovations, patients are adept in using them and benefiting from how they work.”

Avera Medical Group psychiatrist Matthew Stanley, DO, said since one in five Americans struggles with anxiety and depression, the test can help many. GeneFolio can also help when finding medications for other behavioral health conditions, such as attention-deficit disorders.

“We have advanced on many fronts in treatment options, but when it comes to medications, there’s still a certain amount of trial and error,” he said. “GeneFolio can help with that, and in the past, the price barrier was a reason why DNA sequencing might not have been considered. This test removes that barrier.”

The test costs about $180. As Stanley said, once completed, the results are useful for the rest of your life.

In the case of depression medications, some people metabolize them too slowly or too quickly for the medication to be beneficial. So it’s a matter of trying different drugs at different dosages to see what works best.

“GeneFolio gives us the means to reduce that time-consuming trial and error,” said Stanley. “It helps people experience relief sooner, and it’s saving time and money. This test is really catching on with the patient population and we’re lucky to have it available at this low cost.”

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Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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