A 'joint venture' model of recontacting in clinical genomics: challenges for responsible implementation
Turnpenny, Peter D.
JournalEuropean Journal of Medical Genetics
RightsArchived with thanks to European Journal of Medical Genetics. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
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Advances in genomics often lead healthcare professionals (HCPs) to learn new information, e.g., about reinterpreted variants that could have clinical significance for patients seen previously. A question arises of whether HCPs should recontact these former patients. We present some findings interrogating the views of patients (or parents of patients) with a rare or undiagnosed condition about how such recontacting might be organised ethically and practically. Forty-one interviews were analysed thematically. Participants suggested a 'joint venture' model in which efforts to recontact are shared with HCPs. Some proposed an ICT-approach involving an electronic health record that automatically alerts them to potentially relevant updates. The need for rigorous privacy controls and transparency about who could access their data was emphasised. Importantly, these findings highlight that the lack of clarity about recontacting is a symptom of a wider problem: the lack of necessary infrastructure to pool genomic data responsibly, to aggregate it with other health data, and to enable patients/parents to receive updates. We hope that our findings will instigate a debate about the way responsibilities for recontacting under any joint venture model could be allocated, as well as the limitations and normative implications of using ICT as a solution to this intractable problem. As a first step to delineating responsibilities in the clinical setting, we suggest HCPs should routinely discuss recontacting with patients/parents, including the new information that should trigger a HCP to initiate recontact, as part of the consent process for genetic testing.