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Author's profile photo Christine Donato

Knowledge is Power: Why Educated Patients Live Longer

Lung cancer 3.jpgIt was a full auditorium in the SAP Newtown Square office on September 1st.  Employees gathered for a very special coffee corner discussion centering on personalized medicine and the role technology plays within Vice President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot.

When asked to acknowledge if they had been affected by cancer either personally or through a loved one, the entire audience raised a hand. Because unfortunately, cancer touches everyone.

Educated Patients Live Longer

When Bonnie J. Addario was suddenly diagnosed with stage 3B lung cancer, her world was rocked.  Until then, she lived life normally as a wife, mother, grandmother, and friend.

So when the doctors at a prestigious academic hospital told her that there was no hope for her case, she refused to settle. Bonnie sought second opinions until one oncologist proposed a treatment therapy… and it worked.

Bonnie beat cancer and has since dedicated her life to helping others fight the same battle.

Eleven years later, and Bonnie, along with her husband Tony, run two not-for-profit foundations purposed to raise funds and research for personalized cures for cancer as well as provide support and advocacy for all cancer patients.

As Bonnie shared her story with the crowd, individuals related to the “cancer journey” she described.  One SAP colleague commented, “It was great to hear the panelists discuss the journey through a cancer diagnosis. I can directly relate because it’s something that I’m experiencing right now. Cancer affects all of us in some way and to know others are going through it helps to understand things more.”

The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation works to empower and educate patients, fund cutting-edge research, build strategic collaborations, and raise public awareness. The goal of the organization is to transform lung cancer into a chronically managed disease within 10 years and ultimately to find a cure.

The Power of Personalized Medicine

In the United States, there is no correlation between the cost of care and the quality of care. Outcomes are not tracked on a regular basis, nor are they uniformly measured. During the panel discussion, Addario and Dr. David Delaney, Chief Medical Officer, Healthcare Sector at SAP, stressed the importance of being an educated patient and second opinions.

Knowledge is power, and the more a patient knows, the better their chances are of beating the disease.

Don’t Guess. Test.

lung cancer 5.jpgIn recent years, there’s been a shift in the way cancer is perceived. Instead of categorizing cancer based on the organ it affects, healthcare personnel are now categorizing cancer based on DNA mutations or markers. Not all instances of cancer have a uniquely identifiable mutation, but many do, and the amount of information about them is constantly growing.

With cancer tumor DNA analysis, doctors can compare a patient’s healthy DNA cell with that patient’s cancer DNA cell to determine the point of cancer mutation.  From there, healthcare personnel can determine if a targeted treatment exists for that particular mutation.

However, 80 percent of all cancer patients are treated in community hospitals where personalized medicine is not usually a routine form of practice.  This is why it’s imperative for patients to find an expert in their type of cancer.  These experts, like the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, can brief the patient on the right questions to ask doctors to ensure the use of cutting edge care.

SAP is dedicated to the Fight for Better Treatment

The price of DNA analysis is steadily decreasing. However, it’s still pretty expensive. The range starts at about $1,500.  Through the Corporate Oncology Program for Employees (COPE), SAP offers its employees free access to cancer tumor sequencing, analysis, and interpretation.  The solution, called Molecular Health Guide™, runs on the SAP HANA platform, and it helps physicians interpret genetic changes and select personalized treatment options based on efficacy and safety. SAP is the first employer to ever offer COPE as part of its benefits package. COPE is live in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

“Without Technology, the Cancer Moonshot Will Not Work” –Bonnie J. Addario 

Lung Cancer Coffee Corner.jpg

Today, information from millions of patient electronic medical records (EMRs) is stashed in dusty hard drives and neglected.  As Dr. Delaney explained, SAP is leveraging high speed technology like SAP HANA to access all of the data within these EMRs and bring it to the point of care, facilitating more informed and data-driven treatment decisions.

Currently, only 3 percent of cancer patients are enrolled in clinical trials, meaning 97 percent of patient data is unavailable and overlooked.

With technology like SAP HANA, healthcare experts can comprehend all of the data that’s underutilized in healthcare, bucketing diverse sets of patients based on ethnicity, gender, age, genome mutation, common health issues, environmental influences, and more.

With the ability to form these micro-bucket categorizations of patients, physicians can more accurately examine trends and bring this data to the point of care.

For a recap of the panel discussion, watch this video:

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