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Highmark Health and Allegheny Health Network announce major investment in cancer services

Plans include construction of new academic cancer institute facility, additional community cancer treatment centers, and expanded relationship with Johns Hopkins Medicine

PITTSBURGH (June 13, 2017) — Building on Allegheny Health Network's (AHN) legacy as a provider of innovative, world-class cancer care, Highmark Health today announced plans to invest more than $200 million over the next two years to further enhance access to leading-edge oncology services in the western Pennsylvania region, as well as other markets served by the organization, including Central PA, Delaware, and West Virginia.

Included in the strategic plan is construction of a state-of-the-art academic cancer institute facility on the campus of Allegheny General Hospital (AGH), the establishment of additional community-based cancer treatment centers across western PA, investments in new technologies, and an expansion of Highmark and AHN's relationship with the world-renowned Johns Hopkins Medicine.

The broadened collaboration with Johns Hopkins Medicine will offer AHN cancer patients and Highmark members even greater access to the unique expertise of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center team and novel therapies being explored through the Center's clinical trials research program.

"Highmark Health and Allegheny Health Network are committed to ensuring that all cancer patients in the regions we serve have convenient, affordable access to the highest level of cancer care possible," said David Holmberg, President and Chief Executive Officer of Highmark Health. "By almost every measure, the cancer program at Allegheny Health Network has long been one of the nation's best in terms of the quality and sophistication of the care it provides. Today we are taking a major step forward to further strengthen that tradition in order to meet the market demand of our patients, members, and communities in the years ahead."

The new cancer institute at AGH will serve as the hub for AHN's cancer-related academic and research activities as well as house the hospital's quaternary medical and radiation oncology programs. AHN expects to break ground on the project by the end of 2017.

Locations for AHN's new community-based cancer treatment centers, which will offer medical and radiation oncology care, are currently being finalized, with construction also anticipated to start by the end of the year. Together, the half dozen or so new facilities are expected to add as many as 175 new healthcare jobs in the region, in addition to the many construction jobs the projects will support.

AHN currently offers a range of comprehensive cancer care, including hematology, medical, radiation, and surgical oncology, with more than 50 clinics at 23 sites across the greater western PA area. The Network partners with independent community hospitals at 10 of those locations.

As part of the expanded relationship with Johns Hopkins Medicine, AHN cancer patients will have enhanced local access to clinical trials being led by the Hopkins team, including some that will be offered in western PA. Combined, the two cancer programs have more than 600 active clinical trials.

Other collaborations in effect between the two organizations as part of the agreement include:

  • Remote consultation and second opinions at Johns Hopkins Medicine, with streamlined and guided access for AHN patients to Johns Hopkins Medicine
  • Peer-to-peer consultations on general clinical issues and treatment options
  • Participation in Grand Rounds presentations and case study reviews
  • Development of technological innovations to treat cancer and provide patients with access to unique technologies and treatments at Johns Hopkins Medicine for rare and complex adult and pediatric cancers, including Hopkins' Proton Beam Therapy program when it launches in 2019
  • Advanced molecular testing provided by Johns Hopkins Medicine to guide more personalized and effective treatment of AHN patients diagnosed with late-stage malignancies
  • A new referral collaboration with Johns Hopkins Medicine for patients requiring lung and pediatric bone marrow transplantation

The new agreement also establishes Johns Hopkins Medicine as a Preferred Referral Partner for Highmark patients for rare and complex adult and pediatric cancers. The partnership includes a concierge program committed to helping members understand their benefits and, if needed, coordinate travel and streamline care at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore at the best possible value.

"We are honored to be working with the oncologists at Allegheny toward our shared goal of providing the best cancer care for their patients," says Paul Rothman, M.D., Dean of the Medical Faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine "Additionally, we are pleased to now also be Highmark's Preferred Referral Partner, including across Highmark's Blue Card Network in western Pennsylvania as well as West Virginia and Delaware." Johns Hopkins Medicine is a Blue Distinction Center for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

Cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the United States, and as the population ages, the number of new cancer cases is expected to grow significantly. There were 1.685 million new cancer cases in 2016, with a 50 percent increase expected over the next decade to more than 2.3 million annually. In addition, as screening and treatment methods improve, the number of cancer survivors is expected to rise from 11.7 million in 2007 to 18 million in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

"Collaboration among doctors and among institutions is essential to winning the war against this formidable disease," said David Parda, M.D., Chair, AHN Cancer Institute. "The partnership between Highmark Health, AHN, and Johns Hopkins Medicine is an excellent example of how like-minded organizations can come together, share knowledge and resources, and develop new paradigms for care and coverage that advance our capabilities and have a meaningful impact on the lives of our patients."

About Johns Hopkins Medicine and Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center

The Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center is one of the nation's 69 cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute, and one of the first to earn that status. Research led by its faculty is among the most highly cited in cancer research and clinical care and has pioneered fields such as cancer genetics, bone marrow transplant medicine, and cancer immunotherapy. Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM), headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, is an $8 billion integrated global health enterprise and one of the leading academic health care systems in the United States. JHM unites physicians and scientists of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with the organizations, health professionals and facilities of The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System. JHM's vision, "Together, we will deliver the promise of medicine," is supported by its mission to improve the health of the community and the world by setting the standard of excellence in medical education, research, and clinical care. Diverse and inclusive, JHM educates medical students, scientists, health care professionals and the public; conducts biomedical research; and provides patient-centered medicine to prevent, diagnose, and treat human illness. JHM operates six academic and community hospitals, four suburban health care and surgery centers, and 40 primary and specialty care outpatient sites under the umbrella of Johns Hopkins Community Physicians. JHM extends health care into the community and globally through Johns Hopkins Home Care Group, Johns Hopkins Medicine International, and Johns Hopkins HealthCare. The Johns Hopkins Hospital, opened in 1889, has been ranked #1 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for 22 years of the survey's 27-year history. For more information about Johns Hopkins Medicine; its research, education, and clinical programs; and for the latest health, science and research news, visit www.hopkinsmedicine.org.

About Allegheny Health Network & the AHN Cancer Institute

Allegheny Health Network is a western Pennsylvania-based integrated healthcare system that serves patients from across a five state region that includes Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, and New York. The AHN Cancer Institute offers a complete spectrum of oncology care, including access to state-of-the-art technologies and new therapies being explored in clinical cancer trials. AHN Cancer Institute provides care at seven hospitals and more than 50 clinics serving patients from western Pennsylvania, Erie, West Virginia, and Ohio. Certified by the American Society of Clinical Oncology's Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI), reflecting AHN's high performance level in all areas, AHN is also the only regional cancer center accredited by the American College of Radiology and the National Accreditation Program for Breast Cancer. AHN hospitals achieved 97 to 98 percent compliance with best practices for cancer care — compared to just 90 percent statewide – as reported by the Commission on Cancer's Cancer Program Practice Profile Reports. AHN physicians are leaders in the nation's largest breast cancer clinical trials group, the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast, and Bowel Project, and participate in hundreds of additional cancer clinical trials.

About Highmark Health

Highmark Health, a Pittsburgh, PA based enterprise that employs more than 40,000 people nationwide and serves nearly 50 million Americans in all 50 states, is the second largest integrated health care delivery and financing network in the nation based on revenue. Highmark Health is the parent company of Highmark Inc., Allegheny Health Network, and HM Health Solutions. Highmark Inc. and its subsidiaries and affiliates provide health insurance to nearly 5 million members in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Delaware as well as dental insurance, vision care, and related health products through a national network of diversified businesses that include United Concordia Companies, HM Insurance Group, Davis Vision, and Visionworks. Allegheny Health Network is the parent company of an integrated delivery network that includes eight hospitals, more than 2,800 affiliated physicians, ambulatory surgery centers, an employed physician organization, home and community-based health services, a research institute, a group purchasing organization, and health and wellness pavilions in western Pennsylvania. HM Health Solutions focuses on meeting the information technology platform and other business needs of the Highmark Health enterprise as well as unaffiliated health insurance plans by providing proven business processes, expert knowledge, and integrated cloud-based platforms. To learn more, please visit www.highmarkhealth.org.

For more information, contact:
Stephanie Waite
Highmark Health/Allegheny Health Network
412-330-4434
Stephanie.WAITE@ahn.org