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Next Steps To Turn the Tide Against Cancer

October 29, 2014

Three weeks ago, 200+ health care leaders representing a broad spectrum of stakeholders convened in Washington, D.C., for the second conference of the Turning the Tide Against Cancer Through Sustained Medical Innovation initiative. There were intense discussions — among panelists and in the hallways between sessions — on the challenges facing cancer research and care.

Now back at our desks, the question arises, what do we want to do next — as individuals, as a community, and as a nation? And, critically, what must we do next to enable and encourage innovation in cancer research?

In 2011, Feinstein Kean Healthcare joined forces with the Personalized Medicine Coalition (PMC) and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) to create the Turning the Tide Against Cancer initiative, in response to disconnects within the health care system that threatened to stifle advances, ironically at an unprecedented moment of scientific progress.

We saw disconnects between patients and the health care system…disconnects between the accelerating pace of science and the slowness of change in our policy environment…and disconnects between the exigencies of driving innovation and the sober realities of a cost-contained era.

As we observed these disconnects, we also noted that as a nation we were attempting to solve complex problems while operating within traditional vertical silos (e.g., patients in patient advocacy organizations; physicians in physician professional societies; researchers in scientific societies) rather than cross-sector collaborations.

And so, we sought to catalyze the entire cancer and health policy community towards action by connecting all stakeholders through the Turning the Tide Against Cancer initiative. Uniquely, stakeholders from across the cancer ecosystem have been represented in all events and deliberations of the initiative.

Now, building upon several years of intellectual exploration, research, dialogue, debate and the deliberations of the broad range of experts that produced the Issue Brief, “A Pathway for Change: Supporting the Shift to Patient-Centered Cancer Research and Care and Addressing Value and Cost of Cancer Care” released at the conference, we ask again, what’s next?

I propose that every individual touched by cancer, and every organization concerned about the nation’s cancer burden, take responsibility for three actions.

  1. Review the Issue Brief, and share your thoughts/ideas about the policy options and/or propose other options.
  2. Involve your organization in the Turning the Tide Against Cancer Through Sustained Medical Innovation initiative, by participating in our activities and events.
  3. Join our partners PMC and AACR and advocate for those options that you agree with, integrating them into your own policy platforms and your communications with policymakers in order to drive momentum and catalyze change.

In the past, individual champions such as the renowned Mary Lasker were a driving force to advance and change our approach to cancer research and care. As Dr. Len Lichtenfeld of the American Cancer Society asked following the first Turning the Tide Against Cancer conference, “Where is our Mary Lasker going to come from? …Who is going to guide this revolution?

I believe that in this era, we are all destined and empowered to be leaders. And as I looked out at the attendees of the Turning the Tide Against Cancer conference, I saw Mary Lasker in the face of each participant. We are all Mary Lasker. We must all be Mary Lasker.

Please join us as we take the next step.

From The Catalyst (blog) – A Conversation with Marcia Kean, Chairman, Feinstein Kean Healthcare

June 11, 2012

This entry is reposted with permission from PhRMA’s blog, The Catalyst.

ASCO’s Annual Meeting this week highlighted some of the exciting advances that are emerging in the fight against cancer. PhRMA has joined with many other organizations in supporting a conference next week, “Turning the Tide Against Cancer Through Sustained Medical Innovation,” which is focused on the critical issue of how we sustain this progress in an era of increasing cost-cutting pressure. Conference participants will examine how we measure the value of new treatments and how we can promote high quality, patient-centered care.

The conference is being convened by the American Association of Cancer Research, the Personalized Medicine Coalition, and Feinstein Kean Healthcare. We sat down with each of the conference co-hosts about the event and progress in cancer care.

Conversation with Marcia Kean, Chairman, Feinstein Kean Healthcare

Q:  In the course of 30+ interviews of national thought leaders that you conducted to develop a Discussion Paper for the Turn the Tide conference, what themes emerged most strongly? 

Marcia Kean:  I was very surprised at how much consensus there was from such a disparate group of stakeholders from academe, patient advocacy, industry, providers and payers.  There was strong agreement, for example, that as daunting as cancer is, innovation is going to be the best way to overcome both the clinical and economic burden of cancer in coming years, and that above all, innovation has to be protected.

Five major themes recurred.  The first was around the need for an ongoing, community-wide commitment to overcome the issues we face as a society in oncology.  I don’t mean that everyone had the same perspective about those issues – remember, this was a very diverse set of individuals – but rather, there was agreement that we have the opportunity at this moment to do things differently to accelerate research and improve care, and that in order to reward innovation, it’s important for stakeholders to identify overlapping interests rather than remaining rigid in their safe and separate silos.  Creating a joint, defined vision of what constitutes value will help to outline a pathway for development.

Second, while everyone recognizes that we’ve made progress toward patient-centered cancer care, much more needs to be done. We need a better system for measuring value that puts patients’ needs and preferences first, and keeps up with the rapidly evolving scientific and clinical environment. As personalized medicine becomes more central, of course, this kind of dynamic measurement will only become more difficult.

Third, there’s huge excitement about the potentially positive impact of digital technologies to accomplish the dramatic productivity gains in cancer research and care that they’ve done for other fields.  Developing effective tools for shared decision-making and clinical decision support is seen as a major opportunity in that regard.

Fourth, there’s a desire to move to “next-generation” tools for assessing value through Health Technology Assessment, as well as a fervent desire to develop next-generation Comparative Effectiveness Research that aligns with personalized medicine and gives a fuller picture of real-world value. We heard that current approaches aren’t centered enough on patient value, and don’t do an adequate of job keeping pace with how the use and value of tests and treatments evolves over time – they are just too static in a highly dynamic world.

Finally, there’s a strong drumbeat about the shift to models of “continuous learning” that give a more dynamic, patient-centered picture of value, so that every clinical encounter informs our overall knowledge base and research advances are moved rapidly into clinical use.  That virtuous circle is seen as the light on the horizon for all of us.

Q:  Your firm has been very active in efforts to implement health information technology and develop a learning health care system. How will these concepts accelerate progress in cancer care?

Marcia Kean:  In some ways, the field of biomedicine has been the last to benefit from the digital revolution.  For many cultural – and technical – reasons, we just haven’t been able to move data rapidly from lab bench to doctor’s office to hospital to patient, and so on.  But there is a growing cadre of researchers and clinicians and patients who are demanding the kind of ‘data liquidity’ in science and health care that they see in every other sector of their lives, and they are gaining traction.  Once we have seamless data exchange, based on the use of standards in Health Information Technology and bioinformatics tools, we’ll have a solid foundation for a learning health care system. In that picture, everyone wins:  innovators can accelerate and improve research; patients and doctors can get the information they need to make wise decisions; and the efficiency of the process can drive down costs.

However, we need to remember that even a digitally-enabled system doesn’t happen in a vacuum — it has to unfold in a community where every sector is interconnected and working towards a common, patient-centered vision, because all these challenges and solutions are inter-related in a very complex and dynamic ecosystem.

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