Family tree drawings have very serious consequences.
Erasmus MC (= Medical Center) and Yenlo have added a drawing program for family trees to their electronic genetics file, Genesis. Genesis is a complete patient information system for Clinical Genetics in which all sorts of information about patients and their families is stored. When drawing a genetic family tree, all this information – related to a specific patient – is summarized. Doctors will then be provided with a full and comprehensive picture of their patients and possible inherited diseases in patients’ families.
Drawing Family Trees in Genesis
Genesis is continuously being improved and expanded through new insights and demands from the Department of Clinical Genetics at Erasmus MC, supplemented by requirements from other participating centers. New versions are released on a yearly basis. The latest version, released today, adds the ability to draw detailed family trees.
The development of this drawing system and the ability to link and visualize available information during the drawing process has led to unprecedented opportunities. “Genesis exposes unsuspected biological relationships and writes them into the family tree automatically” said Rob Verhage, IT architect at Erasmus MC. “The database also contains other information, such as administrative, diagnostic and laboratory data. All this information goes beyond family ties, and this data can now be seen directly from the family tree. Doctors acquire a holistic picture of the patient during the drawing process. Additionally, markers are added for every recurrent disease or abnormality, resulting in visible patterns, allowing doctors to draw new conclusions about, for instance, hereditary diseases.”
A Revolution in Medical Science
During the specification of the program it became clear what the implications might be; it wasn’t until the building process that users finally became fully aware of them. The new dynamic ‘family tree drawing’ functionality in Genesis provides new possibilities regarding patient records. It offers potential that is hard to foresee at this time. For physicians, this approach could lead to a whole new way of diagnosing, but the balance between ethics and privacy on the one hand and availability of unanticipated new information on the other still needs to be found.