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Miami Cancer Institute Takes Action To Address Inequities in Cancer Care with Expanded COTA, Inc. Collaboration

Miami Cancer Institute, part of Baptist Health South Florida, will leverage COTA’s Real-World Analytics to drive standardization of care across all cancer patients.

COTA, Inc. and Miami Cancer Institute, part of Baptist Health South Florida, announced today they are expanding their real-world data (RWD) and analytics partnership. Miami Cancer Institute will use COTA’s Real-World Analytics platform (RWA) to better understand how certain patient demographics, such as zip code, ethnicity, or other socio-economic factors, contribute to unwanted disparities in patient outcomes.

With this expanded partnership, Miami Cancer Institute will take concrete steps to address one of the most pervasive issues in healthcare: disparities in health outcomes perpetuated by uneven access to services. Curated real-world data — including de-identified electronic health records and claims data — will be used to reveal the scope of unwanted disparities in care patterns and patient outcomes across the Institute’s patient population.

Miami Cancer Institute Tackles Disparities in Cancer Diagnosis with Big Data

Miami Cancer Institute is a leader in cancer care, providing a combination of cancer expertise, innovative technology, and compassion at its flagship facility in Miami and at sites in its distributed cancer care network in Broward and Palm Beach counties. With a faculty of 110 clinicians in Miami and its network providing access to the largest number of annual new cancer patients of any cancer provider in the state of Florida, Miami Cancer Institute was recently named by U.S. News & World Report to be in the top 10% of cancer programs in the U.S.

Now in its sixth year of operations, like other major cancer centers, the Institute is turning its attention to existing healthcare disparities in its community by forming a Division of Health Care Equity.

“With our expanded partnership, we’ll be collaborating with COTA on research that analyzes the impact a patient’s demographics may have on the stage of their cancer diagnosis,” said Leonard Kalman, MD, Executive Deputy Director and Chief Medical Officer at Miami Cancer Institute. “Delayed cancer diagnosis for a patient frequently leads to poorer outcomes. Our hope is that this collaborative research will identify the patients who are most at-risk for delayed diagnosis so we can increase education and expand access to routine cancer screenings for these populations.”

To date, COTA has partnered with Miami Cancer Institute to implement standardized, evidence-based approaches to care that lead to improved patient outcomes. Recently, COTA’s RWA was used by physicians to better understand BRCA testing patterns at Miami Cancer Institute between 2018 and 2019. This analysis led the Cancer Institute to implement blanket BRCA mutation testing for all patients with newly diagnosed metastatic breast cancer in an effort to identify all patients — and by extension their family members — who could be at increased risk of harboring the mutation.

Pandemic Sheds Light on the Need for Increased Focus on Equity in Cancer Care and Treatment

Amid the pandemic, increased focus has been placed on the need to take action on disparities in cancer care and treatment — those often linked to a patient’s social determinants of health (SDOH). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), SDOH is defined as the places where people live, learn, work, and play, which can, in turn, impact patient health risks and the quality of their outcomes.

Over the last two years, issues relating to later-stage cancer diagnosis due to postponed screenings amid the pandemic have also been a major concern. Building on this pandemic-driven challenge, President Biden and his administration announced their expanded “Cancer Moonshot” initiative in February to help drive faster progress toward a cure for cancer. As part of this initiative, increased focus is being placed on the need to improve the cancer detection process by educating patients about routine cancer screenings while making them more accessible across all patient populations.

“All patients deserve access to the right care, at the right time — regardless of where they live or what job they have,” said C.K. Wang, Chief Medical Officer at COTA, Inc. “We’ve been honored to work with Miami Cancer Institute since 2018. This expanded collaboration is a meaningful step in their broader mission to take focused action aimed at ensuring greater equity in cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment.”

COTA is also working with an array of other leading academic cancer research institutes that share a similar mission and seek to bring equity to cancer diagnosis and treatment. Just last year, COTA announced new RWD and analytics partnerships with MedStar Health and University of Chicago Medicine that are aimed at driving equity in care across all cancer patients.

In addition, COTA has a long history of researching disparities in cancer care, including this study with several leading cancer centers using RWD. The study revealed that compared to white patients, Black patients experienced a notably longer time to receive treatment for this cancer, even though the same therapies were available to both groups. Since Black Americans are two to three times more likely than white Americans to develop multiple myeloma, and delayed care often leads to worse outcomes, it is critical that oncologists understand and address this difference as quickly as possible.