When Beau Biden needed an MRI scan transferred from one health system to another, his father, Vice President Joe Biden, said the systems had to resort to a cell phone to take and send a picture in lieu of electronic records that could talk to one another.
"Can you imagine any other company in the world working that way?" Biden said in a speech Monday, Oct. 24. "You badly need an innovation conference here."
Biden, who delivered the keynote address at the Cleveland Clinic 2016 Medical Innovation Summit, lost his son to cancer in 2015. During his final State of the Union address, President Barack Obama put Biden in charge of the Cancer Moonshot, a national effort to end cancer. The goal is to double the rate of progress toward a cure, making a decade of advances in prevention, treatment and diagnosis in five years.
In his speech, Biden emphasized the need for data sharing, innovation and investment, as well as collaboration. Although collaboration is key, he said, "our systems are ill-equipped to reward collaboration, to reward team science, to give credit to everyone involved in a publication."
"I don't know the science like you know, but I know bureaucracies and I know how to knock them down," he said.
Before Biden took the stage, Clinic CEO Dr. Toby Cosgrove sat down for a Q&A with Steven Krein, CEO of StartUp Health, which aims to transform health care through a global network of entrepreneurs working to reinvent the future of health.
Cosgrove said now is the time for a Cancer Moonshot because of several factors coming together: The "enormous opportunity" of big data, the explosion in genomics, and the increasing understanding of causes and preventions.
While these will bring great successes in medicine, Cosgrove said he doesn't believe cancer will be totally eradicated in most of our lifetimes.
"But I think it will change from being a death sentence, if you will, to something that is manageable and treatable and turned in many cases into a chronic disease," he said.
The Cancer Moonshot is about everyone doing their part, Biden said, from patients and survivors considering sharing their records and data, to researchers who receive funding for clinical trials keeping their commitment to make their results and failures immediately available. He called it "unconscionable" that this information is not shared as required.
"From now on, the 60% of you that don't share this data on time, you're going to be fined $10,000 a day," Biden said. "That's a promise."
He also promised he will work to increase federal funding for cancer and laboratory research this year, because the fight against cancer is "the only bipartisan thing left in the United States of America," he said.
America has enormous talent, incredible resources, the commitment and capacity to do "virtually anything," he said.
Biden said he chose to lead the moonshot not just because of his son, but also a new sense of optimism that can come once research makes the progress he predicts it can make in the next five years.
"Your children are going to see more progress in the next 15 years than we saw in the last 75 years," he said.
Every day, millions of people are praying for hope, time and success in the fight against cancer, Biden said. Patients want to see loved ones graduate, meet a grandchild or walk their daughter down the aisle for her wedding.
"They're not asking to live. They're not asking to be cured. They're asking for one more moment, and it matters." Biden said. "Every damn moment counts. And every moment we delay matters."
He ended his speech reminding the packed room that the world is looking to them for answers.
The Medical Innovation Summit, now in its 14th year, runs through Wednesday, Oct. 26, at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland and the adjacent Global Center for Health Innovation.
"Vice President Joe Biden talks Cancer Moonshot at innovation summit" originally appeared on the website of Crain's Cleveland Business.