Telemedicine uptake among Genetics Professionals in Europe: room for expansion.
Otten E., Birnie E., Lucassen AM., Ranchor AV., Van Langen IM.
Today's economic challenges and the changing landscape of clinical genetics are forcing us to consider alternative ways of providing genetic services, to comply with budget limitations and at the same time meeting the demands of increasing patient numbers and patient-centered care delivery. Telegenetics could be an effective and efficient way of counseling, but its use in Europe is not widely reported, nor is there evidence of international collaboration. We conducted an online survey among 929 genetics professionals, to explore the current availability and use of different telegenetics modalities in Europe. Our questionnaire was completed by 104 clinically active European genetics professionals. Telephone genetic counseling was used by 17% of respondents. Videoconferencing facilities were available to 24%, but only 9% of them used these for patient counseling. Various barriers to availability and use were cited, ranging from practical constraints, lack of professional support/knowledge, to lack of perceived suitability and need. The results show that telegenetics modalities are not currently in widespread use by our respondents, in part due to perceived barriers. To meet the changing economic, genetic, and societal circumstances, we recommend consideration of greater integration of telegenetics into regular clinical genetic care, to supplement existing care modalities. Professional cooperation, sharing knowledge, and establishing guidelines on a national and international level could contribute to successful and more widespread implementation of telegenetics. However, the perceived practical and regulatory barriers have to be overcome.