Healthcare Business News

USC's Keck Medicine joins trend to combine academic and local cancer care

By Rachel Landen
Posted: July 9, 2014 - 6:00 am ET

Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California completed its acquisition of Orange Coast Oncology Hematology Medical Associates in a move intended to extend the academic medical center's comprehensive cancer care to more convenient local settings.

“It is estimated we have to send 20% to 25% of our patients elsewhere, because we just don't have the technologies, skills and expertise to deliver what we consider to be the best care locally,” said Dr. Louis VanderMolen, the newly-appointed clinical professor of medicine for Keck and founder of OCOH.

Instead, he said, patients should be able to access cutting-edge clinical therapies, advanced technologies and procedures, consultations with specialists, and research being conducted at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC.

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The deal is one of many announced in recent months between comprehensive cancer centers and community cancer providers, including one this week involving Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore and Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburgh. And last year, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York formed an alliance of community cancer providers.

“We're trying to make a difference in patients' lives and doing this in an integrated way as part of a university-based healthcare system, but closer to home,” said Tom Jackiewicz, senior vice president and CEO of USC Health. “The way I think about it is, we want to bring the best in cancer care to Orange County. And if patients end up coming to Keck for more complicated cases, they're already part of the university system.”

Under the terms of the agreement, the OCOH practice becomes part of Keck Medicine of USC and will be known as USC Oncology/Hematology. It will include locations in Newport Beach, Calif., and Irvine, Calif., as well as a treatment center in Newport Beach. Physicians with the former OCOH practice are now also faculty at the Keck School of Medicine and members of USC Care, its medical faculty practice group.

The affiliation grew out of a multiyear relationship between Keck and Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, where Keck surgeons have been practicing for nearly a decade, Jackiewicz said. The next step was bringing in local Orange County doctors to create a further integrated network to provide leading-edge therapies, he said, and to do as much of that as close to home as possible.

“We have to align research and academic expertise along with clinical delivery of care in a user-friendly environment that's efficient,” VanderMolen said.

Follow Rachel Landen on Twitter: @MHrlanden

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