Expanding Access to Optimal Cancer Care, the City of Hope Way

Cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the U.S. with more than 1.9 million new cancer diagnoses and 600,000 deaths expected this year. 

And while therapeutic advancements have contributed to cancer mortality rates decreasing by 33% since 1991, many patients are unable to benefit from the latest innovations and care they need to survive. 

The unfortunate truth is cancer patients’ outcomes vary dramatically, including by ZIP code and their distance from an NCI-designated Cancer Center. There is a gap between the innovation taking place at academic cancer centers and the people who can actually access these breakthroughs. 

With the aim to deliver the latest discoveries and leading-edge care to more patients, families and communities, City of Hope is working to close that gap. It’s what’s led the organization to acquire Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) and its community hospital locations in Atlanta, Chicago and Phoenix in 2022. It’s also why City of Hope is now one of the largest cancer research and treatment organizations in the U.S.

“As a group, NCI-Designated Cancer Centers are tremendous organizations leading incredible discovery and innovation,” said Robert Stone, CEO of City of Hope. “But the aha moment for me was realizing that 80% of people in this country who have a cancer diagnosis don't have access to an NCI center, either because their insurance or their geography won’t allow it. So, at some point it doesn't matter how well we're doing our job in our historic campuses. If we can't figure out a way to reach people in the communities in which they live, then we're not fulfilling our mission to the greatest extent possible.”

City of Hope’s Los Angeles campus is the location of its NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, which is the research and innovation hub for its national cancer system. With one of the nation’s highest rated comprehensive cancer centers at its core, City of Hope is exporting its expertise, innovation and standards across its clinical network to deliver optimal cancer care in the community – serving more than 134,000 patients last year across a network of locations in California, Arizona, Illinois and Georgia.

Earlier this year, former CTCA clinical locations in Atlanta, Chicago and Phoenix fully transitioned to the City of Hope brand, marking a new chapter in the delivery of cancer care at these locations. The reasoning behind the brand transition was about much more than a name change - it reflected the organization’s commitment to enhancing the quality and value of care at these locations.

"City of Hope is now able to share its expertise to benefit a greater number of patients in even more communities, including our bone marrow transplant and immune effector cell therapy programs," said Stone. "By transitioning these locations to the City of Hope brand and bringing together 11,000 team members around one shared mission, we underscore our commitment to delivering a consistent patient experience as 'one City of Hope' across our national clinical network."

In addition to branding, a number of other changes have taken place in the last year, including former CTCA locations now functioning as nonprofit organizations. To support uniform protocols and the highest quality of care across all locations, City of Hope is currently implementing the Epic electronic health record (EHR) platform across its entire system, with completion expected in Fall 2023. 

The Epic system will also enhance City of Hope’s ability to collaborate on a national scale, with more than 600 physicians and 1,000 researchers and scientists across four states working together as one team. In addition to standard oncology services available at these locations, patients with complex cases, when needed, have access to the nation’s top subspecialists and leading-edge treatments. Joint quality reviews and tumor boards are being conducted where national experts provide education and insight on complex cases to provide the best care across all locations.

City of Hope’s expertise in leading-edge treatments, like bone marrow transplants and CAR T cell therapy, is also being brought to City of Hope locations in Phoenix and Chicago, with plans to introduce the program in Atlanta in the near future. 

“We’re establishing an organization that can not only research and develop innovative treatments but can also actually implement them in a care setting—at scale, on a national level,” said Stone. “It’s incredibly exciting and unique, and being an independent cancer center gives us the flexibility to make this happen.”

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