Adding a genetic counseling assistant improves efficiency of hereditary cancer genetic counseling without impacting patient experience

J Genet Couns. 2023 Jan 8. doi: 10.1002/jgc4.1671. Online ahead of print.


Improving efficiency of genetic counseling can allow genetic counselors to see more patients, increasing access to this valuable service. However, the patient experience should be carefully considered as changes are made, so that quality is not sacrificed. The primary outcome of this study was time in session with a board-certified genetic counselor at baseline (T0), after the addition of a genetic counseling assistant (GCA) (T1). The secondary outcome was the patient experience, which was collected from an electronic survey sent three days after the genetic counseling session. A total of 689 appointments were evaluated over 12 months; 291 in T0 by two genetic counselors (Jan-June 2019), 398 in T1 by two genetic counselors (August 2019-Jan 2020). The overall genetic counseling median appointment time decreased by 10 min in T1 (p < 0.001), and the median amount of time spent on post-session activities by the two genetic counselors decreased by 15 min (p < 0.001). There was an increase in the average number of patients seen per FTE per month from 24.3 in T0 to 33.2 in T1. There was no difference in overall patient experience from T0 to T1 (p = 0.3). There was high patient satisfaction, including with the amount of time spent in a session during both time periods (p = 0.63). This study found decreased appointment time with the addition of a GCA in a single clinic without impacting patient experience.

Keywords: efficiency; genetic counseling; genetic counseling assistant; patient experience; quality improvement.