Study Finds Physicians Eager to Learn More about Molecular Diagnostics

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Molecular diagnostics are a critical driver of personalized medicine, but what does the ultimate end user—the physician—really think about the potential and application of these tests in everyday clinical practice? Such insight could prove valuable for marketing and sales executives seeking to understand the barriers and catalysts for adoption of personalized medicine products and services by these critical customers.

CAHG, a health care communications company, conducted a study of physicians’ awareness, attitudes, and adoption of genomics, molecular diagnostics, and targeted therapies. Results of the study, which included oncologists, cardiologists, and primary care physicians, suggest that this critical set of health care gatekeepers has a low level of knowledge of personalized medicine in general and molecular diagnostics in particular. Only eight percent of doctors are very familiar with the current issues and advances in personalized medicine, and 50 percent have received no education at all on the topic.

Although oncologists generally reported more experience and familiarity with molecular diagnostics, primary care physicians, and to a lesser extent cardiologists, lack confidence with all aspects of molecular diagnostics, from identifying appropriate patients for testing, choosing the right test, understanding and interpreting the results, and even explaining test results to their patients. Moreover, all three specialties, oncologists included, have low confidence with the basic logistics of testing such as choosing which lab to send a test to, determining if a test is covered by insurance, and identifying the right insurance codes.

This lack of knowledge and confidence, however, creates opportunities for industry. The study found that an overwhelming majority of physicians – nine in 10 – are interested in learning more about personalized medicine as it relates to their practice. Of particular note is their willingness to meet with pharmaceutical and molecular diagnostic company sales representatives to learn more about targeted therapies and molecular diagnostic tests.

This eagerness for knowledge underscores the need for the medical community—including industry—to provide educational programs and informational materials to prepare physicians for the inevitable influx of new personalized medicine products, including molecular diagnostic tests. Such initiatives will help accelerate the adoption of personalized medicine from promise into practice.

You can learn more about this study in the spring edition of the PMC newsletter at http://www.personalizedmedicinecoalition.org/sites/default/files/files/PMC_Spring%20’11.pdf.

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