Am J Hum Genet. 2021 May 29:S0002-9297(21)00192-0. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2021.05.008. Online ahead of print.
Genetic disorders are a leading contributor to mortality in neonatal and pediatric intensive care units (ICUs). Rapid whole-genome sequencing (rWGS)-based rapid precision medicine (RPM) is an intervention that has demonstrated improved clinical outcomes and reduced costs of care. However, the feasibility of broad clinical deployment has not been established. The objective of this study was to implement RPM based on rWGS and evaluate the clinical and economic impact of this implementation as a first line diagnostic test in the California Medicaid (Medi-Cal) program. Project Baby Bear was a payor funded, prospective, real-world quality improvement project in the regional ICUs of five tertiary care children’s hospitals. Participation was limited to acutely ill Medi-Cal beneficiaries who were admitted November 2018 to May 2020, were <1 year old and within one week of hospitalization, or had just developed an abnormal response to therapy. The whole cohort received RPM. There were two prespecified primary outcomes-changes in medical care reported by physicians and changes in the cost of care. The majority of infants were from underserved populations. Of 184 infants enrolled, 74 (40%) received a diagnosis by rWGS that explained their admission in a median time of 3 days. In 58 (32%) affected individuals, rWGS led to changes in medical care. Testing and precision medicine cost $1.7 million and led to $2.2-2.9 million cost savings. rWGS-based RPM had clinical utility and reduced net health care expenditures for infants in regional ICUs. rWGS should be considered early in ICU admission when the underlying etiology is unclear.