By: Eric Lefkofsky
This week marked the thirty-first observance of Mental Illness Awareness Week, which was established in 1990 by Congress to raise awareness and education around mental health conditions. It is important to acknowledge the strides that have been made over the past three decades to destigmatize mental illness and increase access to care, but we must also recognize the progress still needed when it comes to treatment options for the approximately 1 in 5 adults across the country who experience mental illness. At Tempus, we are applying what we’ve learned in oncology to transform the way neurological and psychiatric conditions are treated.
The prescribing process for patients with neurological and psychiatric diagnoses largely relies on “trial and error.” This approach can have unintended adverse effects for patients looking to manage their condition and alleviate the debilitating symptoms that are often associated with conditions like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. As a result, a large majority of patients with Major Depressive Disorder fail first line therapy, and continue to fail second and third line attempts at treatment. In addition to leaving patients exposed to a range of side effects, this can result in medication non-adherence and cause patients to feel like there is no solution, potentially discouraging them from seeking further treatment. More work should be done in psychiatry to consistently leverage genetic tests to help better inform and tailor treatment decisions.
Because we know that there is no one size fits all solution to treating mental illness, Tempus is going beyond pharmacogenomics to help providers personalize treatment plans and empower patients to take control of their mental health.
Using a patient’s saliva sample, our proprietary whole exome genetic test allows us to deliver deep molecular profiling and clinically actionable insights to better understand how patients might metabolize and respond to certain medications. This helps providers make more informed decisions about the type of treatment or dosage they prescribe. But we don’t stop there. TempusPRO, our psychiatric mobile app, allows patients to record symptoms between appointments. This supports providers in seamlessly tracking patients’ symptoms and outcomes over time and making data-driven modifications to treatment plans.
Mental Illness Awareness Week is capped off by World Mental Health Day on October 10th. This year’s focus, as appointed by the World Health Organization, is: “Mental health care for all: let’s make it a reality.” A key step to achieving mental health care for all is addressing the financial barriers to care. We believe all clinically eligible patients should have access to our genomic sequencing tests. As such, we’ve worked to make our test accessible with most patients paying $295 or less.
We’re committed to advancing psychiatric care and improving patient outcomes through the power of clinical and genomic data. Each patient’s mental health is unique and their treatment should be too.