Impact of computer-assisted data collection, evaluation and management on the cancer genetic counselor's time providing patient care

Fam Cancer. 2011 Jun;10(2):381-9. doi: 10.1007/s10689-011-9417-2.


Cancer genetic counseling sessions traditionally encompass collecting medical and family history information, evaluating that information for the likelihood of a genetic predisposition for a hereditary cancer syndrome, conveying that information to the patient, offering genetic testing when appropriate, obtaining consent and subsequently documenting the encounter with a clinic note and pedigree. Software programs exist to collect family and medical history information electronically, intending to improve efficiency and simplicity of collecting, managing and storing this data. This study compares the genetic counselor's time spent in cancer genetic counseling tasks in a traditional model and one using computer-assisted data collection, which is then used to generate a pedigree, risk assessment and consult note. Genetic counselor time spent collecting family and medical history and providing face-to-face counseling for a new patient session decreased from an average of 85-69 min when using the computer-assisted data collection. However, there was no statistically significant change in overall genetic counselor time on all aspects of the genetic counseling process, due to an increased amount of time spent generating an electronic pedigree and consult note. Improvements in the computer program's technical design would potentially minimize data manipulation. Certain aspects of this program, such as electronic collection of family history and risk assessment, appear effective in improving cancer genetic counseling efficiency while others, such as generating an electronic pedigree and consult note, do not.

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection*
  • Genetic Counseling*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Pedigree
  • Risk Assessment
  • Software*
  • Time Factors