The not-for-profit systems have teamed up to offer patients treatment based on their individual genetic profile using precision medicine, a care model the Obama administration has advocated for as part of its Precision Medicine Initiative.
The partnership, called the Precision Medicine Alliance, will initially focus on advanced diagnostic tumor profiling in cancer patients, but will eventually expand to treating other areas of cancer and cardiac illnesses, according to a news release.
The program will be available at Dignity and CHI's combined 150 hospitals, which treat approximately 12 million patients annually.
Most often large academic medical centers offer advanced precision medicine treatment to patients. This partnership gives patients an opportunity to get such treatment at a community hospital close to their home, said Manoja Lecamwasam, executive director of intellectual property and strategic innovation at Dignity Health. “If we can provide these tools to our community oncologists, they can see more and more of these patients.”
In order to choose which tumors are best to treat with precision medicine, a physician advisory board that consists of oncologists from both Dignity and CHI will meet every month to review research and peer-reviewed articles, Lecamwasam said. The systems will then partner with laboratories and bioinformatics companies to develop tests specific to the needs of patients.
The program will also build a collection of clinical cancer data that can be used to better diagnosis and treat patients. The systems will integrate patient electronic health records in order to build the database.
Dignity and CHI also hope to contribute to Vice President Joe Biden's Cancer Moonshot by sharing data, said Damon Hostin, administrative director of the Precision Medicine Alliance and administrative vice president of precision medicine at CHI. The moonshot has pushed for increased sharing of genetic data to advance cancer research.
Hostin also added that the increased expansion and use of precision medicine could encourage more payers to reimburse for the treatment. “Right now, the knowledge of cancer is outpacing payers, and it's limiting access to the full possibility of precision medicine.”