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Dignity Health, Catholic Health Initiatives Collaborating on Precision Medicine Program

September 21, 2016
by Heather Landi
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San Francisco-based Dignity Health and the Englewood, Colo.-based Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) are collaborating on a large, community-based precision medicine program that could be available to approximately 12 million patients annually.

Through Precision Medicine Alliance LLC, Dignity Health and CHI will offer patients from both health care systems diagnostic and treatment protocols based on their genetic and molecular profile information, according to a joint announcement from the two health systems.

The program will be available at nearly 150 hospitals and care centers across the U.S.

The alliance will initially focus on advanced diagnostic tumor profiling in cancer treatment and will later expand into other areas such as cancer and cardiovascular risk, and pharmacogenomics, according to both health systems. The program will also support oncology research by populating a database with the goal of creating a large collection of clinical cancer data.

The Precision Medicine Alliance will also integrate electronic medical records (EMRs) into a data-management infrastructure that will allow access to clinical expertise and clinical trial information. The plan is for the two health systems to partner with laboratories and bioinformatics companies nationwide to develop molecular tests specific to meet the needs of patients and clinicians.

“The Precision Medicine Alliance will provide community physicians with access to a wide range of diagnostic technology that is currently only available in academic medical centers. This will provide more accurate diagnoses, with personalized therapies tailored to each patient through community providers, where the vast majority of care happens,” Lloyd Dean, president and CEO of Dignity Health, said in a prepared statement. “Through our partnership with CHI, we are using the latest technology, especially in genomic sequencing, to deliver the right care, to the right patients, quickly and efficiently.”

Kevin E. Lofton, CEO of Catholic Health Initiatives, said in a statement, “Conventional wisdom suggests patients suffering from the same condition should be treated with the same therapy. Science now tells us that the efficacy of one-size fits all for medications and therapies varies by patient because each person has a unique DNA profile that responds differently to prevailing treatments. Through the new Precision Medicine Alliance, use of genomics for diagnosis and treatments enables a new degree of precision for identifying the most effective treatment and/or clinical trial for each patient, as well as those treatments that would potentially be ineffective or harmful. Through the program we will partner with laboratories and data solution companies nationwide to promote new clinical trial development and molecular tests to meet specific patient needs.”

Additionally, the Precision Medicine Alliance is aligned with the national Precision Medicine Initiative which is a $215 million investment from the White House to accelerate biomedical research and provide clinicians with new tools to select the therapies that will work best in individual patients.

“Current treatment programs largely focus on the best course of treatment for the general population,” Edward Abrahams, president of the Personalized Medicine Coalition, said. “However, with recent advancements in science and technology, the ability of personalized medicine to improve health outcomes for individuals and reduce toxicity due to adverse drug responses is great. Partnerships such as the one between Dignity Health and CHI that will bring this targeted approach directly to the communities is thrilling and will have a significant impact on patient lives and improving overall community health.”

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