Patients living in remote areas surrounding Winston-Salem, North Carolina, who are concerned about their risk to develop cancer no longer have to drive to a large medical facility to get answers. 

Novant Health has launched the Triad area’s first genetic counseling video visits for assessing cancer risk, expanding access to potentially life-saving preventive care conversations.

The technology enables patients to connect with a genetic counselor using Novant Health’s MyChart application and a smartphone or tablet device. Patients without one of these two devices living in and around Kernersville, Thomasville, Salisbury, Wilkesboro, Eden and Mount Airy can schedule their video visits at a designated Novant Health Oncology Specialists clinic in their community.

“The benefit of the program is that travel will no longer be a barrier for patients in smaller communities in need of genetic counseling services,” said registered nurse Betsy Johnson, who is director of oncology services at the Novant Health Derrick L. Davis Cancer Center. “We believe everyone deserves access to preventive care, and we hope to save even more lives through this program.”

The service is for all genetically linked cancers, including breast, ovarian and colon cancer. Genetic counseling sessions are done between a genetics counselor using a web camera and a patient using a smartphone or tablet device. These video visits typically last 60 minutes.

During this consult, patient information is gathered and next steps for treatment plans are developed. If the patient qualifies for genetic testing, a mobile phlebotomy lab will coordinate for a blood or saliva sample collection at the patient’s home. This service will be offered to any patient who chooses not to travel to Winston-Salem due to health, transportation or geographic needs.

If patients do not have access to a smartphone or tablet device, they are invited to visit a nearby Novant Health satellite clinic to use a tablet device at no charge.

Video visits will be available by home computers via webcams in the coming weeks. Video visits have a flat fee of $50. Some insurance plans will pay for video visits though most do not. Call 336-277-6000 to determine if you are a candidate and to schedule a video visit.