GGC Receives Funding to Expand Access to Genetic Services for Infants and Toddlers

10.12.23

SC Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare funds project for BabyNet-eligible patients

Charleston, SC (October 12, 2023) – The Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC) has been awarded a grant of $191,779 from the SC Center for Rural and Primary Care. The two-year project, ‘Expansion of eVisits to ensure statewide access to genetics care for BabyNet-eligible infants and toddlers, aims to improve access to care, shorten wait times, and provide earlier genetic diagnoses for this vulnerable group of patients.

BabyNet is South Carolina’s early intervention program for infants and toddlers under three years of age with developmental delays, or who have conditions associated with developmental delays. Through GGC’s relationship with the SC Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, all BabyNet-eligible infants and toddlers are offered an annual genetics evaluation. This new funding will expand GGC’s eVisit program offering asynchronous consultations to all BabyNet-eligible families more quickly.

eVisits have several benefits over traditional in-person or telemedicine visits. eVisits are asynchronous, allowing families and clinicians to communicate on their own schedule, removing barriers of travel, missing work, or finding childcare.

“This eVisit platform also allows patients to be evaluated and start genetic testing much more quickly – within a week of referral compared to a months-long wait for an in-person appointment,” said Mike Lyons, MD, Director of Clinical Services at GGC and the principal investigator on this project.

The project will also facilitate the referral process for early interventionists in rural areas of South Carolina and provide educational materials for providers and families on the benefits of an early genetic evaluation.

“Genetic evaluations for infants and toddlers enrolled in BabyNet offer the possibility of identifying the underlying cause for these developmental delays at an early age, allowing for more targeted therapies, management, and support for families,” said Lyons. “We began a pilot project in Charleston in 2022 using eVisits to improve access to care for these infants with great success. This funding will allow us to expand that project and include all who are served through BabyNet, especially those in more rural areas of the state.”

The project also aims to evaluate the effectiveness of eVisits in identifying answers for families.

“With the increase in demand for genetic services and the insufficient workforce to meet that demand, we are looking to new and innovative ways to provide care,” added Lyons.  “eVisits show great promise in helping us provide the same high-quality patient care in a more timely and convenient manner.”

GGC expects to see significant improvements in patient care as the project expands with the goal of completing 60 BabyNet eVisits per month by the end of the grant cycle.

Lyons added, “We anticipate that these efforts will dramatically improve wait times for all types of visits, and hope that our success can be translated into a new model for genetics care in clinics nationwide.”

“We are proud to support Greenwood Genetic Center’s expansion to provide rural services,” added Andrea Mitchell, Program Manager for the SC Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare. “Proactive and innovative programs such as this are critical to ensuring that quality care is available and accessible to improve rural health in our state.”

 

 About the SC Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare

 The South Carolina Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare is a center of excellence at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. The Center supports and develops sustainable rural and primary care education and healthcare delivery in South Carolina through clinical practice, training, and research. The Center strives for a future where all South Carolinians have access to high-value healthcare. For more information about CRPH, please visit www.scruralhealth.org.

 

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Meet Makayla Gunn

Makayla was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome in April of 2015 at the age of two. At about 18 months, we noticed she had started some repetitive hand motions, and her pediatrician was a little concerned that she did not have many words. She had learned some sign language, and was saying ‘mama’ and ‘dada’, but that was it. Then she suddenly stopped all of that. At her 2 year old check-up, the pediatrician referred us to BabyNet, SC’s early interve...

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