I am a family nurse practitioner in independent practice in Carrollton, Kentucky, a rural area of northwestern Kentucky along the Ohio River.
This is a medically underserved area, with shortages of physicians and psychiatrists. There is a 10-month waiting time for people in this area to see a psychiatrist. In fact, the nearest major medical centers are more than an hour away in either Louisville or Cincinnati. However, our patients typically don’t leave town, so some walk several miles to see us. About 60 percent of my patients are on Medicaid.
Additionally, this area is facing a number of challenges with opioid use, addiction, and mental health issues. Patients may be self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, which has severe consequences including losing their children in some cases. The sooner we can help patients deal with their diseases and find the right medications, the better chance they have to get their lives back.
The Cost of Trial and Error
How can you set a price on having to return for multiple visits with no success – much less the social costs of not being able to get better? I first looked at the GeneSight test because it was important to try anything I could to help my patients – especially anything that is cost effective.
I have always started by determining what a patient’s insurance will cover, then looking at side effects, potential drug interactions, and what they have tried in the past.
Since implementing the GeneSight test into our practice, if a medication doesn’t work for a patient, I order a GeneSight test. I don’t want to keep guessing. Additionally, if someone is bipolar or schizophrenic and will be medication-dependent, I will order a test as a first step.
It’s important to know that we are not pushing medications. If a patient is struggling, and they want to come off medication, the GeneSight test is a safety blanket for them to know their options. Their genes don’t change; they can use this information for the rest of their lives.
“We Have Had Huge Success”
The GeneSight test has helped me in my practice to know the medications that work for each patient. It has been right on target with the patients, symptom wise.
I have had cases where patients have failed many medications over the years without success. People have struggled for so long to feel normal. After taking the test and identifying a medication more likely to work, we find that for the first time in years they feel normal and many now are able to keep jobs.
I had one patient who was suffering deeply; numerous providers had seen her without success. She couldn’t get through a therapy session, couldn’t follow direction, and had lost her kids. After the GeneSight test, we changed her medication and she felt so much better that she was able to return to work and restore her relationship with her family (which was taking care of her children). She is now back to being a contributing member of society.
GeneSight Benefits My Practice
The GeneSight test saves time and pain from both a health professional and patient standpoint. Instead of trying again and again and again to find the right combination of medications, we find it in a quarter of the time.
Running my practice is much easier overall, with fewer patient calls and needs. Instead of guessing, I now have a black-and-white schedule. It’s changed my life, too.