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Published on December 20, 2017

prescription bottles and pills

GeneFolio Helps Find the Right Medications

Carol Hofman said it was simple – just a routine blood-draw at a clinic.

But that simple step has saved her time and inconvenience as one of the earliest adopters of Avera’s GeneFolio test, one recommended by her physician, Carilyn Van Kalsbeek, MD.

“I was on a few medications, and she thought this test would be a good way to make sure the ones we were using were working together properly,” said the 61-year-old Sioux Falls resident. “I’m glad we did it because it turns out there was some conflict between a pair of my medications.”

GeneFolio tests multiple genes that impact medications in three main classes: pain, depression and other psychotropic disorders, and statins for cholesterol and certain types of blood thinners. Carilyn Van Kalsbeek, MD, Avera Medical Group McGreevy 69th & Western, said since Hofman needed several medications, the test could be helpful.

“She did face a situation where she was on more than five medications so the chance to have an adverse interaction between the drugs was high,” Van Kalsbeek said. “This test is especially valuable for someone who uses multiple medications. Carol was not familiar with it, but she ready to be on the forefront of trying it.”

While GeneFolio doesn’t tell providers what to prescribe, it does give them an additional tool to prescribe the most effective medications, which can mean fewer side effects, faster recovery and lower costs.

Hofman and Van Kalsbeek were able to find another path that allowed that conflict to end, she said. That was in November 2016, and Hofman didn’t really think too much more about the DNA-focused testing that GeneFolio provided. That is until April, when she faced issues with her kidneys.

“I was hospitalized for eight days with Stage 3 kidney disease,” she said. “But because I had the GeneFolio test already completed, my physicians were able to use that information as they considered how to help me get better.”

Avera Medical Group nephrologist Sioux Falls physician Arvin Santos, MD served as Hofman’s doctor during her hospital stay. He and the hospitalist physicians were able to use the information from the GeneFolio profile to approach the care they provided her, especially when it came to managing pain.

“I didn’t realize how useful that test was going to be,” she said. “Your DNA doesn’t change, so once you have the test, your doctors can use it. It helped me with my cholesterol medication as well as with my kidney disease because certain ones I had taken, my body doesn’t metabolize very well.”

Van Kalsbeek said the test provides useful information and is easy to read.

“The test’s reports are written in a really readable fashion, so they are something a patient like Carol can use down the road,” she said. “I think for people facing orthopedic cases, elective surgery or who are managing chronic conditions with multiple medications could benefit from having the test’s report.”

Hofman said she’s feeling better and that she’d encourage others to have the test even if they face no illnesses. “People say ‘Well, I’m healthy now’ and figure they don’t need it,” Hofman said. “But if you have the results handy it could be very valuable even if you don’t know when you’ll see its usefulness.”

The advice she’d share has rubbed off close to home – her husband, Gary, has had his GeneFolio testing completed so he too can have that useful information in his medical record, no matter what health challenges he may face.

“It was worth the money and it’s a very simple test,” Hofman said. “It’s good information to have for the rest of your life.”

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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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