CEO Pat Basu speaks on a range of opportunities to defeat cancer.
Pat Basu, MD, MBA, has been on a quest to cure cancer since he decided to go to medical school.
"I went into medicine in the first place to become a radiologist, in large part, due to cancer being one of the great battles that humanity is fighting today, and has been fighting for many centuries," Basu, the new president and CEO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), told HealthLeaders recently.
Cancer claims the lives of more than 600,000 Americans annually, according to statistics from the National Cancer Institute.
The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine graduate brings an extensive professional background to his new role.
He has worked as a physician at Stanford University Medical Center; a partner at Chicago Pacific Founders Private Equity and at Pritzker Group Venture Capital; senior vice president at Optum; a White House fellow; and president, chief operating officer, and chief medical officer at vRad, a provider of radiology services.
Basu is also one of the founders of Doctor On Demand, a telehealth video visit company.
"I have been privileged to work at organizations that are at the forefront of some of the major transformations in healthcare—technology and data, value-based care, and healthcare reform working in the White House," he says.
HealthLeaders spoke with Basu, who is succeeding Rajesh Garg, MD, JD, to find out about his vision for CTCA. Following is a lightly edited transcript of that conversation.
HealthLeaders: What are the biggest challenges facing cancer treatment providers such as CTCA?
Basu: Clinically, we have amazing potential clinical tools that are on the verge of breakthrough such as precision medicine and immunotherapy. But cancer is still an unbelievable plague on our society, with one-out-of-three Americans who will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime.
From a care delivery standpoint, cancer care providers face similar—and in some instances extenuated—versions of what other healthcare providers in America are experiencing. On the one hand, cancer care providers are delivering very complex care despite an accelerating decline in reimbursement. At the same time, cancer care providers are dealing with increasing input expenses such as pharmaceutical costs.
There are also challenges throughout the American healthcare system that are highly relevant to cancer care providers. There are changes in care models—there are shifts from treatments that used to be inpatient therapy that are now outpatient therapy and may soon be shifted to telehealth. That sounds nice; but as an organization, those shifts are challenging operationally.
There are shifts in the marketplace in terms of value-based care and increasing patient deductibles. There is the impact of technology, which is a good thing, but technology in and of itself is not a solution. You need to have solutions that deploy technology, not technologies that deploy solutions.
HL: What is an example of a new business venture at CTCA that is designed to expand access to higher-quality cancer care?
Basu: We have incredibly big opportunities in the data space, where we are working with pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology companies. At CTCA, we have been treating patients end-to-end, with holistic, integrated care for more than 35 years. So, we have lots of data from the time that patients came to us, to the time they were treated and went home, and everything in between.
So, we have clinical trials with pharmaceutical companies to use that data to unlock better cures.
HL: Why is data such a valuable commodity in medicine?
Basu: How many times in our profession have we said that something works, then we came back later and said it doesn't work? You just don't use the latest and greatest because it is the latest and greatest. You have to think about whether you are adding value to the patient, and you need data that says one therapy is better than another.
History is littered with medical treatments that we thought were great, but they ended up not great and actually harmful.
HL: What would you pick as the most promising technologies in cancer care?
Basu: In the purely clinical axis, I hold a lot of faith in precision medicine and immunotherapy.
Precision medicine is based on the idea that each of us have unique factors that—to date—have not been taken into account. American medicine has been monolithic—if you take a certain dose, I take a certain dose. Immunotherapy is also powerful because it is unlocking the body's own powerful defenses.
On the technology axis, I am most excited about what data can unlock. In cancer care, which is a highly complex disease and a highly prevalent disease, we have lots of data. We should be able to unlock treatments, wisdom, and nuances.
On the care delivery axis, I am excited about the notion of getting care out to the patient in terms of telehealth and remote monitoring and other things that allow us to come to the patient instead of the patient always having to come to us. That has relevance in primary care, and it has relevance in oncologic care.
Christopher Cheney is the senior clinical care editor at HealthLeaders.
Cancer claims the lives of more than 600,000 Americans annually.
Pat Basu, the new president and CEO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America, has experience as a physician, entrepreneur, and financier.
Basu says he believes precision medicine and immunotherapy are two of the most promising technologies in oncologic care.