San Diego Business Journal

DNAVisit, a global telegenomics technology and service company, is re-imagining the genetic counseling industry. The nearly three-year-old startup claims to have developed the first genetic counseling as-a-service platform.

The San Diego-based startup is taking advantage of life science co-working space Biolabs and  has licensed genetic counselors in all 50 states. DNAVisit has 9 full-time employees with a total of 25 staffers, including distributed contractors.

Founded by chief executive Ahmed El-kalliny, DNAVisit offers a scalable and flexible genetic counseling solution which allows near-instant incorporation into various genetic testing workflows.

In a short period of time, the company has experienced rapid adoption given its HIPAA-compliant platform that is plug-and-play and is now working with a few dozen healthcare organizations, clinical labs and employers throughout the U.S.

HIPAA Compliant

“We started the company two years ago, growing from zero clients to dozens of clinical labs, ” said El-kalliny. “It’s been rapid growth, considering that we are operating in a highly regulated environment, maintaining HIPAA-compliance, for example.”

DNAVisit’s platform offers live chat interactions for counseling to genetic test providers.

Leveraging artificial intelligence technology, genetic counselors and pharmacists can now deliver a modern and high-quality genetic counseling experience for both patients and doctors using voice, video, or digital chat.

Designed to handle projects ranging from tens to thousands of patients per month, the company powers a wide range of genetic testing labs, health systems, and employer-sponsored health programs. El-kalliny said the team created the platform with flexibility in mind, while also optimizing for scale.

“Our platform is a bit like Uber in terms of our flexibility we offer for clinicians,” said El-kalliny. “Different clinicians can sign up for different hours. For example, if a pharmacist or genetic counselor wants to work three to four hours a week, they can do that. If someone wants to work full time they can do that too. We wanted to make it flexible and interesting for the clinicians, but also to make it so we can quickly scale.”

Other features include a streamlined scheduling platform which incorporates both automated email and human-based phone scheduling enabling them to make scheduled consultations with every patient with ease.

In addition, the software assists clinicians in completing clinical consultation notes, and even incorporates a variant classification tracking program, where patients and physicians can receive notifications from their clinicians if variant reclassification events occur.

Partnership

In January, DNAVisit formed a partnership with Scripps Research who is incorporating their AI-enabled platform for its polygenic risk study. A spokesperson at Scripps said DNAVisit’s platform has exceeded expectations in regards to genetic counseling between its research participants.

“They have a remarkably effective digital platform and team to administer genetic counseling, which has helped connect the dots for our research participants,” said Ali Torkamani, director of Genome Informatics at Scripps Research.

Throughout the collaboration with Scripps, DNAVisit is assisting with counseling for participants and helping participants make the findings as actionable as possible.

DNAVisit’s business model has two components. Offering its solutions as a software-as-a-service where clients pay a monthly or fixed price. The other side is the actual genetic counseling service provided by the clinicians.

$14B Market

Estimates for the genetic testing market range from $8 to $18 billion, with help from giant DNA genetic testing and analysis companies such as Ambry, Invitae, Myriad and 23andMe.

Analysts predict the industry will grow into a $25 billion market by 2025. More interestingly, the genetic counseling component is expected to grow even more rapidly.

DNAVisit has also been uniquely positioned to also provide services around pharmacogenetics counseling, which is often conducted by pharmacists rather than genetic counselors, but sometimes both. This is one of the areas where DNAVisit is experiencing the highest adoption.

DNAVisit is currently running several pilots with smaller employers with hopes to expand into working with larger ones. Names were not disclosed.

El-kalliny said the company is uncertain on whether the startup should raise venture capital from investors to scale more quickly or continue to grow organically.

“We have a couple of choices, to take our time to grow organically or we can raise money and be more aggressive about expanding at a faster pace.”

Initially, the team raised a small seed round from friends and family to get the business off the ground, El-kalliny said, the startup has been cashflow positive ever since. Revenues were not disclosed.

Looking forward, DNAVisit aims to expand their current population health programs, where they are currently running a number of pilots with employers, to a few hundred employers.  In the short-term, the company will continue to grow its clinical lab and healthcare provider client base.