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Keywords:

  • cancer genetics;
  • e-genetics;
  • patient perspectives;
  • service delivery;
  • telemedicine

Hilgart J, Hayward JA, Iredale R. E-genetics: exploring the acceptability and feasibility of using technology in cancer genetics services.

The use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the delivery of cancer genetics services could improve equality of access in rural areas and help meet the increasing demand for specialist genetics services. An online patient survey and focus groups with patients and staff from the Cancer Genetics Service for Wales (CGSW) were used to explore the acceptability and feasibility of utilizing ICTs within genetics services, which we have termed e-genetics. A total of 225 patients completed the online survey. Many aspects of e-genetics proposed in the survey were highly acceptable to patients, including an electronic version of the family history questionnaire, an email facility for cancer genetic queries, and a computerized decision-aid. Participants in the focus groups emphasized the importance of patient choice when developing new models of service delivery. For example, the use of genetic counselling via telemedicine was not considered to be preferable to face-to-face clinic appointments but could benefit those unable to travel. This article highlights the fact that e-genetics initiatives may not be appropriate for all cancer genetics service users. However, user-friendly developments that can be easily implemented and attend to individual needs could improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness, whilst providing high-quality services to remote areas.