In February, renowned physician and healthcare entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong, MD, announced that Phoenix Children’s Hospital would lead the pediatric arm of the transformational Cancer Moonshot 2020 initiative.
As lead institution for the Pediatric Consortium, the hospital’s mission is to advance translation of genomic data to improve understanding of cancer biology and how that can improve treatment. Furthermore, the hospital will study how immune-based therapies can impact cure rates. Nine other children’s hospitals across the country will join this effort.
From a pediatric perspective, children’s health systems nationally and even globally are carrying the same torch: Innovation and collaboration are critical in the fight against childhood cancer and other diseases.
According to the American Cancer Society, cancer is the second most common cause of death among children ages 1 to 14 years old in the U.S. In 2016, an estimated 10,380 children will be diagnosed with cancer and 1,250 will die from it. Remarkable advancements in research, technology, process, methodologies and thought leadership promise to improve pediatric and adult patient outcomes.
There are several ways technology advances are leading to treatment advances for pediatric patients.
Chan Soon-Shiong Children’s Precision Medicine Institute at Phoenix Children's Hospital is exploring how disease can be better treated through the use of genomic sequencing and precision medicine.
For example, through the joint venture with Soon-Shiong, Phoenix Children’s will use a comprehensive cancer population management platform to offer high throughput, complex genomic analysis to researchers across the country. A direct high speed fiber connection will allow for rapid transfer of genomic data and bioinformatics among the institutes involved.
The population management platform will collect and analyze clinical data, and actively assist in the comprehensive clinical management of patients’ lives.
After the hospital takes on cases, it will also use the platform to better understand and treat neurologic and genetic diseases.
There are also several advancements in radiology and imaging that are affecting pediatric patients.
Phoenix Children’s is the first children’s hospital to marry 3D printing and advanced post-processing technologies, allowing physicians to create accurate models of defective hearts, orthopedic fractures, injured internal organs, and even tumors. In one recent example, the technology enabled providers to measure a tumor’s exact size and identify subtle changes in shape or volume to optimize the course of treatment.
Three-dimensional printed hearts support family education and surgical planning. The hospital used 3D printing to test placement of an adult ventricular assistive device inserted in a pediatric patient’s chest cavity as a bridge to transplant. This enabled the patient to wait at home rather than extending the hospital stay, drastically improving the pretransplant quality of life.
Pediatric care on the hospital or clinic floor is improving drastically through innovation, as well. Phoenix Children’s uses a Pediatric Dose Range Checking Safety System, for example, that helps prevent medication overdose. Since its implementation in 2011, the hospital has eliminated prescription overdose errors.