Will wellness genetics disrupt healthcare?

Swab your saliva, or extract some blood, and send it off in the post. In a few weeks, you can have a report suggesting what exercises you should do, how much coffee to drink, and your risk of developing metastatic breast cancer. There’s a new wave of lifestyle/wellness/preventative health tests being sold B2B and B2C across the world. Could wellness genetics disrupt the market?

More of Europe’s largest healthcare providers are delving into the world of genetics. Mehiläinen and Medicover have recently announced partnerships with genetic diagnostic companies, and Cigna tells HBI it is keeping an eye on the space. But these large and established healthcare providers stress the importance of using accredited labs and waiting for the science to deliver valuable results before they throw in resources. 

Sources say that wellness genetics can, and will be, valuable but the science isn’t quite there yet. The large companies seem to suggest they have a degree of responsibility to control the growth of the genetic testing market. 

Patients, we think, will also remain wary and not buy into these tests as widely as providers hope. We know, and patients know, that many insurers would love to use the data collected from these lifestyle tests to underwrite policies. It’s a slippery slope towards patients with ‘high risk’ genetics being uninsurable.

Wellness testing is potentially a huge market – the testing kits could be sold as widely as mobile phones one day. But unless and until there is reassurance that data won’t be misused, and proof of better health outcomes, the market will be reluctant to buy big.

 

 

We would welcome your thoughts on this story. Email your views to Rachel Lewis or call 0207 183 3779.