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January 13, 2017

How Geisinger wants to 'transform health care at its core' using gene sequencing, big data

Daily Briefing

Geisinger Health System CEO David Feinberg this week unveiled Springboard Health, a population health initiative that will use genome sequencing, big data initiatives, and other technology to connect patients with social services offerings.

Springboard Health

Feinberg announced the initiative on Wednesday at the StartUp Health Festival during the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. Feinberg said the initiative aims to address the social determinants of health.

The program will start with Springboard Healthy Scranton (SHS), through which Geisinger will collaborate with local stakeholders in Scranton, Penn., to manage chronic conditions, reduce preventable cancers, and improve the community's socioeconomic health. According to Geisinger, Scranton's population struggles with high rates of diabetes, obesity, and behavioral health issues, as well as difficult economic conditions such as a lack of living wages and poor food security.

"When it comes to the social determinants of health, we know there are many more causes impacting the health of a population than access to quality medical care," Feinberg said in a statement preceding the conference. "We want to transform health care at its core by focusing on preventive care, behavioral health, and economic growth."         

For example, the Scranton project will include a fresh food pharmacy, which will use "food as medicine" to address conditions such as diabetes and food insecurity.

Geisinger will also conduct DNA sequencing to help participants identify genetic conditions for which they might be at risk. Geisinger has already sequenced DNA for about 150,000 patients, with a target of eventually completing DNA sequencing for 1 million patients. So far, Geisinger has found that DNA sequencing has revealed medically actionable results in about 3 to 4 percent of profiled patients.

Geisinger said its goal is to use the Scranton project to develop cost-effective, sustainable community health programs and scale them nationally and globally.

"We are going to introduce innovative programs and foster robust community collaborations and back it all up with data to make sure Scranton is the healthiest place to be in the country," Feinberg said. "Once we successfully implement Springboard Healthy Scranton, we'll take the program on the road to communities with similar socioeconomic health challenges" (Baum, MedCity News, 1/11; Klein/Dahukey, National Law Review, 1/11; Geisinger release, 1/5).

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