AccessHope, LLC, a company that provides cancer expertise to employers and their health care affiliates, today announced a new foundational collaboration with Emory Healthcare and Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, extending access to specialized cancer expertise to more people living with complex cancers across the United States.
Emory Healthcare, along with Winship, joins AccessHope's existing collaboration with three other National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers to offer innovative support and deliver advanced, expert knowledge for employees with cancer to their health plans and their local treating oncologists.
Cancer specialists from Winship will provide tumor type-specific expertise for AccessHope's core services — accountable precision oncology, expert advisory review and cancer support team — to plan members in southeastern states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, and across the United States.
"People deserve access to the latest cancer care knowledge, regardless of their geographic location. The ability to remotely access health information has become increasingly important for the patient experience, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic when people's ability or willingness to travel for cancer care may have been impacted," says Mark Stadler, chief executive officer of AccessHope.
Through an employer benefit that provides access to a broad network of oncology experts, AccessHope's cancer support services help employees and their families navigate the complexity of a cancer diagnosis to improve quality of life and health outcomes, return to their work and lives, and reduce expenses.
Medical specialists at Emory Healthcare and Winship are at the forefront of lifesaving discoveries and the latest cancer research, and they can help health plans and treating oncologists guide their patients to clinical trials, genetic/genomic testing and the newest personalized treatments, such as breakthrough medications and targeted therapies.
"We are honored to welcome Emory Healthcare and Winship into our growing family of foundational collaborators, which also includes City of Hope, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Northwestern Medicine and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University," adds Stadler. "As we continue connecting plan members and their local treating oncologists with these world-renowned specialists who can review their cases, our primary goal is to share insights they can use to optimize cancer treatment plans and improve clinical outcomes."
Emory Healthcare, with 24,000 employees and 11 hospital campuses, is the most comprehensive academic health system in Georgia. System-wide, it has 2,722 licensed beds and more than 3,300 physicians practicing in more than 70 specialties, serving metro Atlanta and the state of Georgia with 250 locations.
"At Emory Healthcare, patients are at the center of everything we do, and our mission is to improve lives and provide hope," says Jonathan S. Lewin, MD, executive vice president for health affairs of Emory University and chief executive officer of Emory Healthcare. "Through innovation and discovery, our clinicians and cancer specialists are focused on advancing medical research and progressive cancer treatments that will benefit those who are diagnosed, and we are pleased to collaborate with AccessHope to provide further access to patients in need of cancer expertise."
Winship Cancer Institute expertise available for patients
with complex cancers
As Georgia's only NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Winship is the epicenter of the state's cancer research, education and care and is ranked in the top 50 in the United States and No. 1 in Georgia for cancer care, according to U.S. News & World Report. Winship clinicians see more than 17,000 newly diagnosed patients each year. The center is poised to grow; construction is underway on a new 17-story cancer facility, the largest expansion in Winship’s history.
"Winship is proud to work with AccessHope to provide top-notch expertise to the care of patients in our region at an exciting time of new possibilities in cancer care," says Winship Executive Director Suresh S. Ramalingam, MD. "Winship's leading experts will work with individuals' health plans and their local care teams to provide specialized knowledge and insights."
Research is also a key component of Winship's mission. Investigators enrolled more than 900 participants in more than 300 clinical trials in 2020, the same year it received $80 million in research funding. Winship collaborates with professionals from around the world and with national and state agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Cancer Society and the Georgia Research Alliance.
"Winship oncologists are seeing a recent trend of more patients coming through our doors with advanced or later-stage cancers, which likely progressed from delayed screenings or treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic," says Sagar Lonial, MD, FACP, chief medical officer of Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. "Through our new collaboration with AccessHope, Winship clinicians will provide valuable medical expertise for patients with complex cancers, including our multidisciplinary teams that care for head and neck, lung, prostate and breast cancers as well as the rapidly changing field of blood cancers. Those experts can then provide recommendations to local oncologists, so individuals then receive state-of-the-art care as quickly as possible."
Increased quality and access to health care
Emory Healthcare was named as one of the top 10 most trusted health care brands in the United States and the top health care system in Georgia in a recent survey conducted by the American Hospital Association of more than 30,000 consumers. Consumers reported that three strategies were paramount to boost trust: being transparent and clear with information, listening and being empathetic, and offering care and treatment choices to patients.
"Improving access, increasing options and expanding health literacy can go a long way in addressing critical issues in health care such as health disparities, trust in health care and health care providers, and patients proactively seeking out specialized medical care. AccessHope’s unique approach in connecting people with cancer expertise, regardless of their geographic location, was a natural fit for Emory Healthcare and Winship Cancer Institute, where patients come first," says Dane Peterson, president and chief operating officer of Emory Healthcare. "Together, Emory Healthcare and AccessHope will increase access to medical expertise, and we will further transform health and healing at home in Georgia and beyond."
In December 2021, the medical journal JCO Oncology Practice published a peer-reviewed study on how AccessHope influences lung cancer cases. Titled "A Novel Program Offering Remote, Asynchronous Subspecialist Input in Thoracic Oncology: Early Experience During a Pandemic," the study found that AccessHope's NCI-level subspecialists provided evidence-based recommendations to influence 93% of the cases AccessHope received. Accompanying the clinical and humanistic benefits was an average of $19,000 in cost savings per plan member.
Today, AccessHope serves approximately 3.3 million plan members who have access to its cancer support services through 75 employers and collaborative relationships with Collective Health via its Premier Partner Program and with Health Transformation Alliance and Quantum Health.