City of Hope, a Duarte, Calif.-based research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other serious diseases, is launching a national advertising campaign this week to attract more patients from out of state.
The center to date has drawn the majority of its patients from a four-county area around greater Los Angeles, said Dr. Alexandra Levine, City of Hope's chief medical officer. The next largest group is from other parts of California, followed by U.S. patients outside the state and then international patients.
Despite receiving high marks on national rankings such as those compiled by U.S. News & World Report, City of Hope's brand recognition is strongest in Southern California. “We are clearly known,” Levine said, “but the other hand, we don't have a national name.”
The campaign, called “The Miracle of Science with Soul,” includes national advertising, media relations and internal communications to help its own staff and researchers appreciate the full scope of work happening at the center.
City of Hope's strengths, Levine said, include its stem cell transplant and hematological malignancies program, which has a daily census of 120 for bone marrow transplants. Despite treating some of the sickest patients in the country, the center has had one of the highest survival rates for the past 11 years, she added.
It also has a gene therapy program that is being used to treat brain tumors, HIV and other disorders. It received an $8 million grant last year from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine which allowed it to fund an Alpha Clinic that will tackle diseases such as hemophilia and sickle cell disease.
And it has three drug development facilities on campus taking promising compounds into first-in-human trials. “We have an entire pipeline of these drugs in various levels of completion,” Levine said.
In addition to its high-tech research focus, City of Hope also wants to be a leader in supportive care medicine. Each of its patients complete a 10-minute questionnaire that includes not only medical questions like how well their pain is being managed but also financial, emotional and spiritual topics.
“You are the most important person on our team and we want to know what's important to you,” Levine said. With 17,000 individual patient responses, “it's a very, very rich data source for both patient care and research.”
In its most recent earnings report for the third quarter ended June 30, City of Hope reported a 3.9% increase in inpatient days (PDF) and a 5% increase in outpatient visits, including infusions. Inpatient and outpatient surgeries were up 5.5% and bone marrow transplant volume rose 7.3% year over year.
In total, the center reported a net surplus of $261.1 million for the first nine months of fiscal 2015 on $1.2 billion in revenue. That compares to the prior-year period's surplus of $265 million on $1.1 billion in revenue.
City of Hope also has expanded regionally, adding new community practice locations that more than doubled the number of patients being seen at its community practice sites.
The center had previously explored a partnership with Providence Health & Services to create an oncology alliance in Southern California. However, the organizations ended discussions last year without a deal.
“If I could use one sentence to describe us, it's 'we care,'” Levine said. “We care and we have tremendous respect for clinical care, tremendous respect for the researchers.”