By Laura Crocitto, MD
UC San Francisco Health (UCSF), a $5 billion health system that sits in the heart of the tech industry of the San Francisco Bay Area, is one of the world's most renowned medical institutions known for breakthrough clinical research and medical innovation.
As chief medical officer and vice president of the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Services, and a practicing urologic oncologist, I was determined to bring the latest medical technology for treating prostate cancer to UCSF because a world class institution demands world class technology.
Because of my business background and clinical experience in urologic oncology care, I was in a unique position to lead our team in building a solid business case for acquiring a breakthrough technology called focal HIFU (High Intensity focused Ultrasound), used to treat localized prostate cancer. Our team and I decided to go through the submission process to bring this device to UCSF.
Prior to joining UCSF, I had researched focal HIFU and I knew this would be a game-changer for men with localized disease. It would also round out our cancer services. In fact, it would give UCSF a way to non-invasively treat localized prostate cancer, preserve patients' quality of life, and give them the greatest opportunity to treat their cancer while avoiding common side effects of sexual impotence and urinary incontinence, often associated with standard procedures -- radical prostatectomy and radiation.
Between securing our clinical champions and enlisting the support of our chief operating officer, we were able to fast track the approval process for our proposal and were ultimately granted the funding to acquire focal HIFU. Our proposal exceeded expectations: even though we projected a 2.1 year return on investment, the focal HIFU device paid for itself in the first year. To this day, I consider the acquisition of focal HIFU one of my major contributions to the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and UCSF.
Hopefully our lessons learned will inform your approach to adopting new medical technologies for your hospital.
Our business case was strong
When I first joined UCSF, our urologic oncology team had already been advocating for focal HIFU. As background, typically men diagnosed with localized prostate cancer that has not spread beyond the walls of the prostate are presented with three choices: radical prostatectomy or radiotherapy to remove or radiate the whole gland, or active surveillance to monitor for possible progression which may indicate that intervention is necessary. Rather than treating the entire prostate, urologists had been searching for a new way to ablate only the diseased portion of the organ, like performing a lumpectomy to destroy only the diseased tissue of the breast in breast cancer.