Reimagining the Lab Report

On December 1, 2010

The Experiment
In the December 2010 issue of Wired, in the article “Blood Simple,” Steven Leckart writes about the confusing world of lab reports, and how these exceptionally important reports are so convoluted that they are next to impossible for “ordinary people” to decipher – and even sometimes too tortuous for physicians to extrapolate relevant important information. With guidance from two physicians from the Dartmouth Medical School Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and the creative skills of “three exceptional designers,” Wired set out to “reimagine” how pertinent information could be presented in a way so the patient could understand it.

The result? “Consider these a proof of concept,” Leckart writes, “a refutation of the argument that ordinary people can’t handle their health (and inspiration, we hope, for the medical establishment). It’s your body. It’s your information. Now it’s yours to understand.”

Pathway’s Stand
It is with this exact principle in mind that Pathway Genomics prepares and delivers to physicians detailed and relevant reports that transform highly complex genetic information into a simple format that their patients can understand.

Making It Simple and Clear
Leckart writes about conveying lab test data, as complex as it may be, in a clear and simple manner – enough for the ordinary patient to understand. Comparing Leckart’s experiment with Pathway’s current reporting methodologies, one can see that there are many similarities.

For example, in Pathway Fit™, our new diet, nutrition and exercise personal genetic report, we designed each section with patient comprehension in mind.

In the summary page, as seen below, the results from the entire report are grouped together, and configured in a way that is easily understood. In the examples shown below, we provide several tiers of summaries that include the one page summarization, as well as grouped topics and detailed descriptions. Further, within these reports we list all of the applicable genetic markers and genotypes, as well as cite all relevant sources.

Pathway Fit™ – Summary

In the “Eating Behavior Traits” section, as shown below, we begin with a list of grouped personal genetic results that include an individual’s propensity for certain eating behaviors, such as snacking, hunger, satiety, eating disinhibition, food desire, and his or her craving for sweet foods, also known as a sweet tooth. Following this easy-to-read “one-pager,” we include an in-depth description of each topic.

Pathway Fit™ – Eating Behavior Traits

The “Diet” section of Pathway Fit™ is another example of simple and clear reporting.  In this particular section, shown below, based on the analysis of specific genetic variants associated with responses to different types of macronutrients, we offer a detailed description of a patient’s matching diet type, and we list various commonly known diets that are closely aligned with, in this case, a “Balanced Diet.”

Pathway Fit™ – Diet

We believe that a clear and meaningful medical report should include the sources used to develop the test. Thus, the research studies that identified the reported genotype-phenotype correlations are clearly sourced in each section as well as in a bibliography. This allows the patient or physician to be able to find more information on a topic, if necessary. In addition, the scientific strength of each study is also shown, and the criteria for marker selection are described earlier in the report.  

Recommending the Next Steps to Take
Pathway’s reports do not merely provide results for physicians and their patients, but these reports also include lifestyle recommendations, based on the results of the genetic test. Below is an example of these recommendations. In the below section, the “Nutritional Needs” section, along with the one page summary, we incorporate practical recommendations, which include suggestions pertaining to the intake of specific vitamins through various food sources.

Pathway Fit™ – Nutritional Needs

Overall, by including useful information and practical, personalized recommendations within a report that implements an attractive design and vibrant colors, we hope to attract the patient’s attention to crucial action items and motivate that person to make any necessary lifestyle choices for optimum health and wellness.

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