Hoag, USC Plan Joint Effort on Cancer Care
Hoag USC Cancer Care Orange County


Hoag, USC Plan Joint Effort on Cancer Care

HEALTHCARE: Comprehensive program at Newport Beach campus


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian and the University of Southern California are teaming up to start a comprehensive cancer program at the Hoag Family Cancer Institute.

Hoag and USC say they intend the program to significantly expand cancer research and treatment in Orange County while giving more patients a way to stay close to home during treatments.

“This relationship will get us ready for the future,” said Dr. Jack Cox, Hoag’s senior vice president and chief quality officer. “Cancer is in the early stages of undergoing a real revolution in the way we approach it and treat it.”

Hoag, which has campuses in Newport Beach and Irvine, treats more than 3,000 newly diagnosed cancer patients a year. It cares for between 18% and 20% of all cancer patients in Orange County, according to Cox.

“The problem is that we still have probably 60% of patients—when they get cancer, they leave Orange County” for care, he said.

“What that tells us … [is that cancer patients] are looking for access to clinical trials and also access to all the subspecialties they’re going to need for their cancer care,” Cox said. “So it’s not that Hoag doesn’t have a good reputation. It’s just that [patients are] just looking for a more complete program.”

Cox said USC’s flexibility, among other things, played into Hoag’s decision to establish the comprehensive cancer program.

“USC definitely felt like they could deliver most of the care that patients needed in Orange County,” he said.

USC will continue to provide some specialized services—bone-marrow transplants, for example—at its Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center in Los Angeles, part of the university’s Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Hoag “is an excellent hospital—it’s got excellent physicians, and it’s a great partnership for USC and Norris because we bring the opportunity to recruit additional physicians into Orange County [and] leverage our clinical trials,” said Tom Jackiewicz, chief executive and senior vice president of USC Health. “It’s a nice blend of bringing cancer [care] into the community between a great community hospital and a great academic medical center.”

Ivy League

Hoag and USC have tapped the Ivy League for the new program’s leadership.

Dr. Burton Eisenberg has been hired as the executive medical director of the Hoag Family Cancer Institute. He will practice out of Hoag’s Newport Beach campus.

Eisenberg was most recently at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Lebanon, N.H., where he served as deputy director and associate director of clinical research.

“There was something about this one that was intriguing to me because of the description of the scope, the opportunity,” Eisenberg said about taking the new job.

“Between the two institutions, there was this energy level you could feel. That made a lot of difference to me because it’s unusual to see that sort of dedication and excitement about a potential collaboration, alliance to further a specific agenda,” he said.

Eisenberg noted that “the increasing complexities of cancer, as well as complete care of the cancer patient, require a new multidisciplinary approach.”

He said the treatment model that Hoag and USC will pursue fits into some goals of healthcare reform, including comparing treatments’ effectiveness and ensuring specific standards of care are followed.

“Value is going to drive the new healthcare initiatives,” Eisenberg said.

Cancer care transformation also intrigued Hoag, according to Cox.

He noted that disciplines such as genomics, or the study of how the human gene works; molecular staging; and tumor biomarkers “really help specify the types of treatments that are going to be effective for an individual."

Cox said partnering with USC will bring access to subspecialist doctors working in those fields who usually aren’t available to community hospitals, even large ones such as Hoag.

Hoag has space on its Newport Beach campus to expand its cancer offerings, Cox said.

“But we’re also looking at a dispersed model; that is, it’s just not about building the mecca here on the Newport Beach campus,” he said. “We want to take cancer care out to the community, so we’re looking at potentially an infusion center in Huntington Beach and also looking also at services we would be able to provide in Irvine,” Cox said.

Hoag’s other hospital is in Irvine on Sand Canyon Avenue near the San Diego (405) Freeway.

It also plans to use information technology to gain access to other subspecialty doctors as needed, Cox added.

The most common cancers among Hoag cancer center patients are breast, urologic (primarily prostate), gastrointestinal and gynecological, which includes cervical, ovarian and uterine cancers, according to Cox.

History Together

Hoag and USC have a history of working together on cancer programs.

The institutions created a breast cancer program in 2008 and a digestive disease surgical program that included cancer patients in 2008 and 2011, respectively.

The breast cancer program alone saw more than 770 cases last year, Cox said.

Jackiewicz and Cox said it’s possible the new cancer program could be involved with Covenant Health Network, the integrated delivery network Hoag and Irvine-based St. Joseph Health established this year.

The announcement of Hoag’s partnership with USC comes roughly two weeks after Fountain Valley-based MemorialCare Health System said it would work with UC Irvine Healthcare to deliver primary healthcare through a series of outpatient centers.