How Inheret promotes early detection of genetic cancers with its guideline-based tool

CEO and Founder of Inheret, Dr David F. Keren, discusses the origins of the Cancer Risk Detection Platform and its mission to identify inherited diseases early.

Why did you start this business?

We started Inheret because it was something we needed. Here in the United States, 60 million people have a family history that puts them at risk for hereditary cancer, or about 1 in 5 people. But too often these cancers go undetected early enough because patients don’t know that they are at risk and do not get tested. There are so many tragic stories of people in their twenties and thirties who sadly have poor outcomes after being diagnosed with cancer that could have been prevented or treated early.

About nine years ago, someone contacted me to ask if I could look into this problem with an insurance company in Michigan. Their concern was that doctors were not following clinical guidelines when ordering molecular tests, such as the BRCA for breast cancer risk, which was new at the time.

They gave me a grant to talk to doctors in Michigan to find out what was going on. During this year, I learned from healthcare professionals that it is a matter of time: primary care physicians only have 10 to 15 minutes to meet with patients, who are shifted to caring for them. other problems like high blood pressure and diabetes. They don’t have time to take a detailed family history that signals the need for genetic testing. In many places, genetic counselors are unavailable or their waiting lists stretch out over several months, further compounding the barriers for these physicians.

Dr David Keren

We therefore set out to develop a mechanism to collect a detailed family history that would not take providers time and that would also be linked to current guidelines so that doctors can refer at-risk patients for genetic counseling and order the appropriate tests. Together, our team worked on a prototype online tool that patients could fill out on their own to map their family history. Over the years, we have continued to improve and refine this tool.

What specific need are you looking to meet in the field of health?

We want to empower individuals to accurately identify their risk for inherited disease and give providers the information they need to make sure their patients have access to genetics. Ultimately, the goal is to remove the burden of cancer risk assessment so that more patients are offered appropriate screening for both common neoplasms such as breast cancer. or colon and less common ones such as melanoma and pancreatic cancer.

We stress the importance of the patient’s family history. During our focus group research, many people told us that they felt like they were giving their doctors the same information over and over again, and it was simply stored in their records and forgotten. After a while, this can make a person less willing to answer these same questions if they feel like it doesn’t matter.

Plus, as many of us know, when you’re in the waiting room anxious about your appointment for your immediate medical condition, the last things you think about are your aunt’s or your aunt’s illnesses. your uncle. We want people to know that the act of building their family health history gets the time and consideration it deserves and that the data obtained will be used to decrease their chances of developing cancer and other family illnesses.

What does your product do? How it works?

Individuals are invited to create an account with Inheret by SMS or e-mail through their supplier or employer. When that person clicks on the link, they are taken to our secure and HIPAA compliant website. From there, they’ll take an easy-to-follow questionnaire about their personal and family health history. Once that’s done, they have a full family history card to keep with them, along with strategies and recommendations based on national best practice guidelines. Each year, Inheret sends them a link to update their medical history information so that it can be used against guideline changes to produce an up-to-date report.

Behind the scenes, the individual’s information passes through a risk analysis algorithm that assesses relevant issues, including ethnicity and the age at which family members developed cancer. For participating clinics, physicians are automatically informed when a patient’s family history is submitted and whether this warrants genetic counseling or genetic testing as required. Comprehensive National Cancer Control Network and other best practice guidelines.

Individuals have the opportunity to share their family history and Inheret report with other providers or family members.

Is this your first healthcare startup? What is your background in the health field?

Well, yes and no. I started as a professor of pathology at the University of Michigan where I worked on tests for immunological and neoplastic diseases. After a decade of service with them, I was offered the opportunity to take on the role of Medical Director and CEO of a newly created Reference Medical Laboratory. I didn’t face the interesting challenges of getting something like this off the ground. But I’ve helped take this business from a few local hospitals to over 100 sites in 19 states. After 22 years in this role, I retired and came back to university to teach part-time, and that’s when the opportunity to start Inheret arose.

What is the economic model of your company?

Our economic model is threefold. The main driver of revenue is selling individual licenses to healthcare providers, who can then enroll an unlimited number of patients. Second, we work with large companies interested in lowering healthcare costs for their workforce while keeping employees happy and healthy. For them, we charge a fee per employee, as negotiated by the size of the employer. And finally, we are offering labs the option of being listed on our Inheret Platform website to streamline the test ordering process for physicians.

Do you have clinical validation for your product?

We do. A study presented a year ago at the National Comprehensive Cancer Network meeting found a 100% accuracy rate when genetic counselors manually reviewed cases analyzed by our digital tool and more than 8 in 10 patients said the tool was easy to use. Meanwhile, the time between requesting and submitting a family history has dropped from four to six weeks to just 72 hours at a genetic risk assessment clinic, and the center’s 400 waiting patients have been completely wiped out. Corn more Importantly, the tool recently identified 44 high-risk patients in a primary care clinic who could then take action to manage their risk. Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found similar results.

On the operational level, we also studied the return on investment of health centers. We have found that for each patient deemed to be at high risk, the Inheret tool generates an added value of $ 6,800 from billable preventive care revenue from laboratory work, imaging studies and harm reduction treatments. and surgeries.

Finally, we have an article accepted for publication in the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. In this study, we analyzed approximately 2,000 patients from a genetics clinic and primary care clinics to determine the effectiveness of our tool in identifying cases requiring genetic evaluation. In the genetics clinic, over 85% of patients completed Inheret and 79% of women and 66% of men and non-binary patients met benchmarks for genetic evaluation. In primary care, 59% of patients completed Inheret and 49% of these patients met benchmarks. These were patients established in primary care who had not previously been identified as being at increased risk, allowing them to take advantage of preventive care options that could reduce their cancer risk by up to 96%.

To learn more about how Inheret identifies the risk of hereditary cancers of the breast, ovaries, skin, thyroid, colon, etc., visit its website.

Photo: SusanneB, GettyImages

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