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The Swedish Cancer Institute Launches Personalized Medicine Program

The Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI) recently announced its new Personalized Medicine Program that combines advanced medical treatments based on the unique, molecular signature of a patient’s cancer with supportive care that is designed to serve each individual’s physical and emotional health.

NCQA to Test Pioneering Way to Measure Quality, Foster Wider Use of Prevention Strategies

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) recently announced a new approach to measuring quality that will provide a more sensitive gauge of risk factors and make it possible to create clinically meaningful incentives for providers to improve disease prevention.

Under a grant from RWJF, NCQA will evaluate a new measurement tool that focuses on improving the health outcomes of patients with heart disease and diabetes. The “Global Cardiovascular Risk” (GCVR) score, which is being co-developed by NCQA and Archimedes, Inc., is the “next generation” quality improvement tool that measures how well providers reduce the risk of future adverse outcomes—such as heart attacks, strokes, and diabetic complications—in the populations they serve. GCVR is also a powerful new use of electronic health records (EHRs), drawing upon clinical information from EHRs to provide the data needed to assess improvement in preventing bad outcomes.

“This new tool has the potential to become the first customized, outcomes-based electronic health record measure used by Medicare and commercial payers,” says NCQA President Margaret E. O’Kane. “Its widespread adoption could have a profound impact on health care costs because it assesses how well providers engage in prevention and goal-setting for their high-risk patients. We believe it could become the new gold standard of quality measurement, replacing some traditional measures that have been the cornerstone of quality improvement for years.”

The traditional approach to quality measurement focuses on processes of care, and reaching clinically artificial treatment goals for biomarkers, rather than the actual disease outcomes. Traditional approaches provide little quantitative information about the outcomes that actually occur based on the care patients receive. In contrast, the GCVR measures how much patients’ risk of future adverse health outcomes have been reduced. Unlike current measures, which focus on a particular process or biomarker, the GCVR measure is a single metric that captures what every provider can do to prevent adverse outcomes, all integrated in a medically and clinically realistic way.

Under the project, NCQA will:

  • Evaluate the feasibility of collecting data from EHRs to calculate a measurable result for different providers and provider organizations; and
  • Evaluate provider views on how useful and meaningful the GCVR score is for predicting risk.

“The GCVR program will change how providers, patients, and payers think about the measurement of quality and will provide much more accurate and effective incentives for preventing adverse outcomes than has been possible in the past,” says David Eddy, MD, PhD, founder of Archimedes Inc., a San Francisco-based healthcare modeling company. “Preventing bad outcomes is the ultimate purpose of the health care system, and this measure will directly address that goal,” he says. “And because bad outcomes cause expensive admissions, tests, and procedures, this new measure will be more effective in controlling costs, at the same time that it helps improve patients’ lives.”

“The GCVR is a game-changer for measuring quality, promoting prevention, and assessing the impact of health care decisions on patient outcomes,” says RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD. “Measuring quality in this way could have major implications for improving patient care and lowering costs because this is focused on preventing adverse health outcomes, not just on care processes or goals, which has been the standard until now.”

Over the next 18 months, NCQA will evaluate the feasibility of extracting the electronic health data it needs to calculate the measure from a number of health systems and health plans that use EHRs from around the country. It is now in the process of recruiting organizations to participate. The data collection and analysis will occur over the summer and fall of 2013, and NCQA expects to report findings by summer 2014.

Watch the video A Pioneering Way to Measure Health Care Quality in which Helen Darling of The National Business Group on Health discusses how the GCVR will benefit employers.

Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Clinical Advantages of Critical Diagnostics’ Cardiac Biomarker ST2 Featured In YouTube Video

Critical Diagnostics, makers of the Presage® ST2 Assay, recently announced that a six-minute videotape by Antoni Bayes-Genis, MD PhD., head of Cardiology Service at Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol, in Barcelona Spain discussing results of a study just completed on the use of biomarkers over conventional clinical assessments for risk stratification of heart failure patients has been posted on YouTube for immediate viewing.

The study followed 876 heart failure patients with a mean age of 70.3 years for a period of 40 months. During this follow up period, 311 patients died. Researchers compared 11 clinical variables, including age, sex, ischemic etiology of heart failure, left ventricular ejection fraction, New York Heart Association functional class, diabetes, renal function, beta blocker treatment, ace inhibitor treatment, sodium and hemoglobin biomarkers, which are routinely used to stratify heart failure risk against three biomarkers: NT-proBNP from Roche (OTC: RHHBY), high-sensitivity troponin T and Critical Diagnostics’ ST2.

The results from this recent study highlights the enduring clinical utility of ST2 despite being combined with the established and widely accepted cardiac biomarkers, like NTpro BNP, in medical practice. “The best results were obtained for ST2 and high-sensitivity troponin T,” notes Dr. Bayes-Genis, the primary investigator of the study. “Whenever we added NT-proBNP to these other two biomarkers, net reclassification improvement was reduced.”

Check out the video below.

“We are seeing strong adoption of ST2 by leading cardiologists who understand many of the limitations of utilizing natriuretic peptide markers like BNP and NT-proBNP in their practice,” states David Geliebter, CEO of Critical Diagnostics. “Natriuretic peptide markers certainly have their role in diagnosing heart failure, but fall short in guiding treatment of diseased patients. In study after study, ST2 has consistently demonstrated improved accuracy of patient prognosis over natriuretic peptide markers alone.

“Two of the biggest criticisms we hear about natriuretic peptide markers are that their levels don’t change or change too slowly, so their value as a serial marker for guiding treatment is questionable and, furthermore, that results are often skewed by other influencers such as age, gender, body mass index, atrial fibrillation, history of heart failure, anemia and impaired renal failure. By comparison, ST2 levels change rapidly in response to changes in the patient’s condition—sometimes within hours—thus helping physicians make informed decisions on an appropriate course of action to take and, if needed, to quickly adjust care, such as titrating medication. Moreover, unlike natriuretic peptide markers, ST2 levels are not adversely affected by the above-mentioned confounding factors.”

“Heart failure has become a growing public epidemic, with increasing incidence and prevalence,” Dr. Bayes-Genis stresses. “As a result, there is a need to understand risk factors and risk stratifiers, to better identify the patients that are going to have a better or a worse outcome. We now have a new generation of biomarkers, high-sensitivity troponin T and ST2, which are easily measurable in our routine practice, which provide additional information to stratify the prognosis of patients with heart failure.”

Source: Critical Diagnostics

Biology Researcher on the Verge of a Technological Breakthrough in Drug Creation Process

New technology being developed at Florida State University could significantly decrease the cost of drug discovery, potentially leading to increased access to high-quality health care and cancer patients receiving personalized chemotherapy treatments.