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Member Spotlight

March 31, 2021

Genome Medical CEO & Co-founder, Lisa Alderson

Genome Medical is using digital health to make genomic-based medicine accessible to all.

Lisa Alderson, CEO & Co-founder, Genome Medical

Realizing that many people have yet to experience the benefits of genomic medicine due to limited accessibility, Genome Medical was founded with a mission to bring genomics into everyday care. Their team is delivering the future of healthcare through their nationwide network of clinical genetic experts and genomic care delivery platform.

Biocom California continues to honor female leaders throughout the life science industry during Women’s History Month and today, we’re very excited to share a discussion we had with Genome Medical’s CEO & Co-founder Lisa Alderson on the future of genomics and how we can all work together to create a more equitable future.

What problems are you aiming to solve with Genome Medical?

Genome Medical is a digital health company sitting at the intersection of telehealth and genomics that is bringing genomic based medicine to patients everywhere. This is important as genomics enables us to better diagnose and treat disease as well as help prevent disease. Genomics is moving into routine medical care and we are enabling this future.

Genome Medical combines comprehensive clinical genomics expertise with digital infrastructure, AI, genomic databases and technology innovation for more efficient and efficacious care. Through our Genome Care DeliveryTM platform, we improve the quality of patient care and reduce the cost of care delivery by accelerating time to appointment for 85% of patients and lowering the cost of risk assessment by 75%.

I founded Genome Medical to break down disparities in access and address a vast unmet clinical need among patients who require genetic services and are often missed. For example, almost 80% of people who meet national guidelines for hereditary cancer testing are not receiving testing. This care gap is amplified in the BIPOC community. Often, individuals are not informed about the importance of genetics for their health. We address this care gap through our digital health technology platform and ready access to leading clinical experts in genetics and genomics.

Our success will be defined by the number of patient lives we impact and the number of lives we save. We want to ensure that no matter what a patient’s path, they have access to genomic-based medicine.

Genomics has moved to the forefront of medicine and has limitless potential. What top barriers must be addressed to realize its true promise?

One of the biggest barriers is that there are not enough genetic specialists globally, and there will not be enough for decades to come. This creates a bottleneck in the healthcare system.  We are addressing this by building the world’s largest network of clinical genomics experts and making them available on-demand for patients and providers.

Additionally, genomics touches most areas of medicine and as such, we need to elevate the genomics knowledge of both primary care and specialty care. This requires education and clinical support tools for providers as well as assessment and care navigation tools for patients.

Ultimately, genetics affects every individual on Earth. Our genomes contain our code of life and contribute significantly to our health. Up until now, this genomic information has been largely inaccessible. But this is changing. Within our lifetime, the vast majority of the world population will learn their genetic code as part of routine medical care. It is estimated that 1 out of every 6 people carries disease-related genetic mutations for which there are treatment or preventive options. Approximately 80% of the population carries pharmacogenomic factors that affect our response to medication. Some respond well, while others suffer from bad reactions; genetics helps to explain why. Approximately 90% of the population carries recessive conditions that may affect their children. The population impact of genomics is enormous. It offers tremendous promise to deliver more effective health care at lower cost for the population at large.

Genome Medical was recently awarded “The Best Digital Health Company to Work For” by Rock Health, Fenwick & West, and Goldman Sachs. What’s it like working at Genome Medical and how have you succeeded in creating an ideal workplace environment?

I think it starts with having a clear mission and being driven by that mission. In our case, our mission to bring genetics and genomics to patients everywhere goes right to the heart of who we are—a unique combination of digital health and clinical expertise that always keeps the patient at the center of what we do. Culturally, that is one of our key values: putting patients first. The other pillars that serve as our foundation are building sustainable value so we can reach more patients and showing our best selves in how we show up for each other. We respect, honor, and trust our fellow co-workers and act as one team.

We see culture as a core competency and a competitive advantage. It allows us to attract and retain an incredible team and encourage behaviors that support our values. We have worked hard to maintain our culture through the challenges of the last year. We believe in there being a consistent, high quality experience—whether you are a health system choosing Genome Medical, a patient receiving clinical care from us, or an employee contributing every day to our success and our vision. We bring this alignment to life through the services and solutions we create, and through the way we invest in recruiting and hiring the right people.

“When I was introduced to the field of genomics more than two decades ago, the power of precision medicine was immediately clear.”

Did you always want to be the CEO of a company?

I have followed my life’s passion. I am a builder and an innovator. I have a background in strategy and entrepreneurship and experience leading technology-driven start-ups. That led me on my path. I had an early start as an entrepreneur, following in my father’s footsteps, and then studied business at Harvard Business School. Both of these life experiences were instrumental in shaping me as well as a desire to lead organizations driving meaningful change in this world. When I was introduced to the field of genomics more than two decades ago, the power of precision medicine was immediately clear. Now, I want to enable others to experience the benefits of genomics to improve health and wellness.

Tell us about the high point in your career.

I’m living it right now. Genomic-based medicine is the future of how we will deliver more precise, personalized health care. I am honored to help make that future a reality today at Genome Medical by enabling more affordable access to clinical genetics specialists and by driving innovation in service delivery to reach greater population impact.

Genome Medical recently reached a major milestone. We are now in-network providers for over 100 million covered lives. That means about 30% of the United States has Genome Medical as a covered benefit in their health plan. Most patients can self-refer and come to Genome Medical directly to understand if genomic based medicine can inform their clinical care.

What can women do to overcome gender disparities that exist? What can men do?

Regardless of gender, it’s important to lift women up, to empower, engage, and inspire. The stats are that women outnumber their male counterparts in both college admissions and graduation, and yet women only account for approximately 25% of senior leadership roles. We have to address this.

We at Genome Medical have taken the parity pledge in support of gender and racial parity. The goal is simple: commit to interview and consider at least one qualified woman and person of color for every open role, VP and higher, including the C-Suite and the Board of Directors.

“I want to affect this generation. I want to bring benefit to those who have need today.”

Where do you find support and inspiration?

Our patients. I am inspired by their stories. This brings our mission to life and gives me the energy and drive to do the hard work we are doing.

I have seen first-hand the importance of genetics and genomics in my own care journey, as a cancer survivor. Many individuals in my family and my circle of friends have been affected by inheritable conditions: cancer at an early age, an unknown family history of cardiovascular disease and children born with rare genetic disorders. Some were fortunate to have access to the latest advancements in genomics for early detection and informed treatment decisions. But for some, these advancements came too late. This fuels my daily drive to bring genomics into everyday healthcare for patients everywhere. I want to affect this generation. I want to bring benefit to those who have need today.

 

What are some of the most exciting advancements in genomics and give us your best predictions for future evolution in the space?

Genomics will reshape the future of health care delivery and will shepherd in a new era of precision medicine. Approximately 17% of people carry disease-related genetic mutations for which there are treatment or preventive options. Having this information readily accessible as part of routine medical care will both improve the quality and cost of care.

Genome Medical is working to advance this future. We sit at the intersection of the most significant trends in health care. Here are three of those trends, along with my predictions:

1. Genomics—as part of standard of care—will become incorporated into routine health care for patients everywhere.

2. Telehealth and virtual care will break down barriers of access to specialists and continue to dominate the landscape for cost-effective, convenient care.

3. Consumer empowerment:  The front door of clinical care has evolved; patients will become loyal to consumer-facing platforms for self-directed and guided on-demand care needs.

Genome Medical embraces these trends, enables more efficient clinical care delivery and bridges to a future where genomics is part of standard medical care for all.