Q&A with Henry Ford Cancer Institute's Dr. Steven N. Kalkanis and Spencer C. Hoover

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | September 04, 2017
From the September 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

HCB News: With a scheduled opening in early 2020, when will you start to recruit staff?
SH: We are well underway, and we’ve been recruiting since the day we started. We want to deliver a very high-touch patient experience. In addition to our medical professionals, we’re hiring social workers, nutritionists, financial counselors, disease-specific nurse navigators and many other key resources for our cancer patients and their families.
SK: We currently have a national search for two key positions related to our Precision Medicine Program initiative. This program is designed to allow us to elevate the standard of care for our region so patients have access to the next evolutions in therapeutic advancements for cancer patients. In addition to this clinical and research program establishment, we were also selected as one of seven sites across the country for the NIH “All of Us” Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) research grant. In addition to staffing for key clinical aspects of the new facility, we are also recruiting for key positions in our precision medicine efforts.

HCB News: What are the biggest challenges facing HFCI?
SH: Science and technology are advancing very quickly and ways of treating patients are also changing quickly. We want to make sure we’re on the forefront of that. We have to be aggressive to make sure we’re on the cutting edge. To support this endeavor, we’re outfitted with an innovation institute to keep us there – new treatments and new modalities. We have all the pieces necessary to be an efficient machine.
SK: I would also add that in any large health system, one of the challenges is to break down operating silos. For Henry Ford Health System, this is the first foray into operationalizing a horizontally integrated health care delivery concept that is wholly focused on the patient at the center of care. Through this process we are learning quickly that this approach demonstrates that the sum can quickly become greater than all its parts. Achieving this approach is not without its challenges. We’ve learned it takes a very methodical approach to evolve people’s thinking and approach to care.

HCB News: A short time before former President Barack Obama left office, he announced the cancer moonshot. Did any pieces start falling into place regarding that?
SK: We were part of it and had the honor of being with [former Vice President Joe] Biden when the announcement of the moonshot was made, and HFCI and HFHS were recognized as a major partner in the initiative. The announcement absolutely made a difference because it created the catalyst for institutions to work together to an extent and level that has never been seen before. The next frontier will be won by everyone collaborating and by sharing information, which will allow for expeditious identification of novel ways to treat patients with current and future therapies for cancer and diseases beyond cancer. Because of that, there’s never been a more hopeful time in our fight against cancer.

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