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Local Pioneers in Healthcare Tech, Life Sciences, Healthcare Delivery and Health Plans Make Philly a Hub of Innovation in Cancer Care

Cancer. The word carries more fear, energy and emotion than perhaps any other. We all know someone who has been impacted by or succumbed to the ravages of this insidious disease. Fact: The CDC estimates that one in every four deaths in the US is due to cancer.

Hidden within this distressing statistic is some brightness. Today, more than ever, the healthcare ecosystem–made up of companies managing health data and information, discovering and manufacturing drugs, providing care, and enabling care through health insurance–is collaborating to advance care in this country. Nowhere is this cross-sector collaboration more evident than in the world of oncology where survival is increasing.

Much of the innovation in cancer care is being led by pioneers in healthcare tech, life sciences, healthcare delivery and health plans right here in the Philadelphia area. Loved ones that had limited choices ten years, five years, even a few months ago, now have more options thanks to advancements happening in our backyard.

Not long ago, oncologists had to rely on incomplete and potentially inaccurate information when making clinical diagnoses without access to personal medical histories. Today, Elsevier, a global healthcare technology company with a corporate office in Philadelphia, is partnering with leading cancer centers across the nation to develop ClinicalPath. This cancer care pathway solution brings together evidence-based standards of care with the patient’s electronic medical record to guide the right diagnosis and treatment selection at the point of care. Other healthcare technology companies in the area are attacking a different part of the cancer journey–survivorship–using machine learning to manage post-cancer care by creating personalized, clinical decision tools based on each patient’s unique diagnosis and treatment history.

Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies make up the life science segment of the healthcare industry–and the pipeline for oncology drugs is strong. Local firms with global impact like Glaxo Smith Kline are investing billions in acquiring other businesses that have a prime focus on cancer drugs (Tesaro, its latest $5 billion acquisition, has a mission dedicated to improving the lives of people with cancer). Iovance Biotherapeutics, which recently announced a relocation to Philadelphia, prides itself on developing novel T-cell-based cancer immunotherapies for a wide array of cancers. And, locally-based Merck–a top 10 global pharmaceutical firm–continues to find great success in outcomes for its blockbuster drug Keytruda, which treats non-small cell lung cancer among other cancers.

Providers in the region are generating significant momentum in finding cures. As covered in a previous NextHealthPHL article, physicians at Penn Medicine were the first in the U.S. to use the gene editing tool called CRISPR (clusters of regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) to genetically alter the immune cells of actual patients. While this novel form of immunotherapy is still in its early days, initial results are very encouraging. ChristianaCare in Delaware is using a $10.56 million grant to support promising clinical trials for cancer patients. An amazing 27 percent of its patients enter a research clinical trial, compared with a national average of only 3 to 5 percent.

The high cost of oncology care has at times pitted patients and health plans as adversaries. Local health plans such as Independence Blue Cross, as well as global players such as Cigna, are shifting that relationship by moving beyond managing enrollment and risk to operating as health partners. This starts at prevention with personalized messaging campaigns to help keep members on track with annual screenings. From the time of cancer diagnosis, they provide personal care management services from RN health coaches who support members through their treatment plan and advocate for them throughout the community of health resources.

Vynamic has a unique view of the power of this cross-sector ecosystem to advance healthcare in the region, and across the country. As healthcare industry management consultants, we partner with clients across all sectors of healthcare to help them achieve their strategic outcomes, thereby continuing the positive momentum of solving healthcare’s biggest problems. Together we believe that with continued cross-industry collaboration, Philadelphia is poised to be a global hub for healthcare innovation.

Co-authored by Vynamic Healthcare Industry Sector Leads: Ryan Hummel (Providers), Saurabh Raman (Health Plans), Chrisna Govin (Healthcare Technology), Karen Baldry (Life Sciences) and Mindy McGrath (Public Health), and Sarah Lenhard.”