Precision healthcare could go viral if Geisinger Health System succeeds in spreading its pioneering MyCode genomics program across the country. Directing the new Geisinger National Precision Health Initiative, based in Washington, DC, is renowned geneticist and genomics expert Huntington F. Willard, Ph.D.

“Geisinger is clearly ahead of the curve in integrating genomic sequencing into healthcare,” said Michael Snyder, Ph.D., professor and chair, department of genetics, and director of the Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine at Stanford University. “A lot of people are using genomics to solve undiagnosed diseases, or to do big genomics projects, but Geisinger is looking at predicting health and incorporating this into day-to-day care.”

Willard agreed that the health system’s approach is fundamentally different from that of other institutions. “Thanks to that work, we now have a unique opportunity to build from successes achieved in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and take what we’ve learned there across the country,” he said.  In those two states, the health system already serves more than 3 million patients throughout 45 counties. It has 13 hospital campuses, two research centers, and a 583,000-member health plan. The system was also one of the first to start using an EHR and now has an average of 14 years of data on many patients.

The new initiative was announced in mid-November with Willard scheduled to come on board in January.  The program will spearhead new strategic partnerships around the MyCode model. Using a turnkey approach, Willard’s team will help other healthcare systems around the United States develop their own precision health programs. He will also launch a new Precision Health Innovation Lab, to forward genomics and data sciences.

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