Q&A with Dr. Andrew Ury of ActX: Optimizing the Customer Experience

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AVIA Marketplace is the leading online resource for accurate, unbiased information about digital health companies and solutions. Our goal: To empower hospitals and health systems with the information they need to match with vendors who can meet their unique needs. We asked the top companies in the precision medicine space about their solutions and what they think the future of digital health looks like. No sponsored content or advertorials—just transparency and insights that decision-makers can use. 

ActX helps physicians make better decisions about medical treatment, using patients’ genetic information. Integrated into the Electronic Health Record (EHR) and normal workflow, ActX analyzes the patient’s genetic information in real time and alerts clinicians about drug-genome interactions, actionable hereditary risks and other important genetic risk factors.  ActX has been successfully adopted by many of the country’s leading health systems, both academic and community based.

With ActX, health systems can provide system-wide, EHR  integrated, precision medicine with rapid implementation. ActX provides comprehensive actionable content, evidence based and frequently updated, coupled with the flexibility of customization. Genetic data can be easily imported from any clinically valid source, internal or external.  ActX is workflow and provider friendly, integrating seamlessly with the leading EHR’s.

Andrew Ury, M.D. is the founder and CEO of ActX, and a published leader in genomic decision support and precision medicine fields. Dr. Ury was founder and CEO of the  first commercial electronic health record company, Practice Partner, which became one of the most widely used EHRs in the United States and was acquired by McKesson in 2007. Dr. Ury was Vice President and General Manager at McKesson before becoming chief medical officer. He also co-founded one of the leading practice-based research networks, PPRNet, and has served on advisory panels for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the National Quality Forum, and the Joint Commission. Dr. Ury graduated from Yale University and Stanford Medical School, and completed his residency at the University of Washington. He has practiced medicine on Vashon Island and in Seattle.

Q: Can you tell us about your company and the challenges you are solving within the precision medicine space?

A: Our mission is to improve health care by making precision medicine practical and widespread, thus enabling it to become the standard of care for patients, physicians, and health systems worldwide. ActX is a proven solution for integrating genomic results into the electronic health record (EHR) and applying actionable clinical decision support at the point of care. We use comprehensive genomic screening to provide clinicians and their patients with frequently updated, evidence-based decision support that focuses on actionable information–such as medication use and hereditary risks.

Understanding a patient’s genetic variants helps to avoid unnecessary (and sometimes life-threatening) adverse reactions, identify ineffective medications, and can reduce costs. Hereditary risk screening adds to this value by giving providers and patients information on heightened germline disease risks. Cost savings comes not only from avoiding prescribing ineffective medications, but from decreased re-hospitalization rates, decreased ER visits, shortened hospital stays due to the avoidance of adverse reactions, and decreased treatment costs for serious illnesses that are caught early or prevented.

Q: How does your company differentiate from other precision medicine solution vendors?

A: What makes us different is that we partner with almost all the major EHR vendors in the U.S. and seamlessly integrate within the normal provider workflow. For example, during a medication order, ActX checks against the patient’s genetics every time physicians write or refill  prescriptions, alerting physicians about issues with adverse effects, efficacy or dosing. ActX also alerts physicians for actionable patient genomic risks, such as hereditary cancer and cardiovascular risks.

ActX is in wide use across many health systems and actively used by more than 30,000 physicians and other providers. It provides clinical decision support from our evidence-based KnowledgeBase, which is continually updated whenever there is sufficient clinical validity and evidence. Users can also easily customize the content.  

Our solution is laboratory agnostic. Patient genetic data can be imported from any clinically valid source, including taking discrete genetic data directly from instruments.  The resulting data is integrated into a single view of the patient’s genetics. 

We are very skilled and experienced with implementation and provide a high level of customer support. We work closely with each health system customer to make sure the project is successful and adapted to their needs.

Q: What are some of the biggest changes your company has seen around how health systems are approaching precision medicine since 2020?

A: As the impact of COVID-19 has subsided, health systems have been able to increase their focus on innovation that improves patient care. As a result, more health systems have identified precision medicine initiatives as one of their strategic priorities. We see growing health system interest in pharmacogenomics and population screening for genetic risks. More health systems also understand the importance of EHR integration.

Q: What does an ideal client look like? How are health systems best organized for success in precision medicine?

A: The ideal client understands that precision medicine will be part of the standard of care within five years. As such, they are making a system wide decision to implement a genomic clinical decision support program that integrates with their EHR. This integration is key to achieving meaningful provider adoption. After critical analysis, the client understands that the integration work done by ActX translates into a fairly light lift for their IT department.

Organizationally, an ideal client appoints an operational leader to manage the project. Together with ActX, the health system’s clinical, pharmacy, genetics, laboratory, security and IT teams will approve the initiative. Each team should prepare and work with physicians to ensure clinical support for the project. 

Q: What impact have you seen from your clients who have prioritized precision medicine?

A: With GenoAct, our genomic decision support tool, the impact is highly positive for clients who integrate it into their EHRs. Our clients have reported better outcomes and documented significant cost savings. Patients are more satisfied with the care they receive. Our clients have been able to competitively position themselves as regional leaders in the space.

Q: What major functional enhancements and/or product investments are you making in the near term to keep up with the evolution of precision medicine?

A: Precision medicine is a rapidly evolving field. We continually update our content to reflect the latest scientific advances and broaden our scope to encompass new areas of research.

We have an agile approach to software development and deliver frequent product enhancements. We continue to deepen our already industry-leading EHR integrations. We are adding new features to further improve provider workflow, enhancing our algorithm and machine learning capabilities, and augmenting our clinical laboratory integration tools.  

Q: How is your company partnering with clients as reimbursements and use cases shift?

A: We work closely with our clients to position them for success with their precision medicine programs. We assist with navigating the insurance landscape and CMS guidelines, value-based care initiatives, and employee health initiatives.

Q: What are the biggest opportunities health systems should be thinking about this coming year when it comes to precision medicine?

A: There are several big opportunities that health systems should consider. The first is making pharmacogenomics a routine part of clinical decision support to improve patient outcomes. The second is screening for actionable genetic risks, starting with the CDC Tier 1 risks. The third is applying precision medicine to value-based care populations.

Q: How do you see precision medicine evolving in 2023 and beyond?

A: We’re really still in the early stages of precision medicine. The goal is to improve medical care by offering tailored therapies and preventative interventions that are more likely to benefit patients because they are individualized with genomic screening and molecular tools. Much of medical care uses a trial-and-error approach, but the evidence shows that better initial therapy selection has many benefits for the patient. Wider adoption of genetic testing, coupled with advances in the science, will ultimately lead to precision medicine becoming a standard of care.  Ultimately,  we will look back and wonder how physicians were able to safely and accurately prescribe so many medications without understanding each patient’s unique genetic profile. 

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