Artificial intelligence a critical factor in improving healthcare, booming life sciences industry see more
HCA Healthcare and Google Cloud are partnering to use data analytics and artificial intelligence along with patient information in a move they say will transform health care delivery and improve outcomes.
It’s the latest step in the evolution of the fusion between health care and data.
Prisma Health recently announced a partnership with Siemens Healthineers. And the Medical University of South Carolina has been working with Siemens Healthineers for years as well as Microsoft.
Proponents say these arrangements benefit patients and providers alike. But they also raise concerns about the security of patient information.
“What they’re doing is harnessing the power of big data to drive informed change and informed decision making,” said Dr. Christine Carr, an emergency physician and senior clinical advisor with the South Carolina Hospital Association.
“Instead of a clinician on the floor saying, ‘I think this is the best way we should do our physician schedules or manage heart failure,’ we have so much data and analytic power now,” she told Integrated Media, publisher of Greenville Business Magazine, Columbia Business Monthly and Charleston Business Magazine. “It’s kind of like your iPhone, knowing where you’re going when you get in the car. We realize we have to get ahead of the disease.”
If a patient has shortness of breath, for example, providers can use data tools to predict if he has a pulmonary embolism without doing any testing, Carr said. And if he does, other tools can help determine whether he should be admitted to the hospital or sent home on medication, she said.
“The real power of using big data in health care is that it helps us deliver more efficient, high-quality care with fewer disparities,” adds Caroline Brown, chief of external affairs for MUSC and the Medical University Hospital Authority.
“There is tremendous value in marrying disparate data that lives in different places to transform the way we deliver care. There are huge benefits for patients for this data to come together,” she said. “We can practice in a more preventive way than a reactive way.”
But how accurate are these tools? Carr says they’re validated to a high degree of certainty so the clinician knows the risks.
“They are extremely accurate,” she said, adding that doctors are still the ones making the decisions.
“It delivers information but you as a human have to ultimately decide what to do,” she said. “And any unique person is a unique person. Sometimes, I just override it. And sometimes I’m right. There are still humans, for now, at the end.”
Another benefit of predictive analytics is lowering costs, Carr said.
For instance, by analyzing a patient’s information, a doctor may determine that she only needs a mammogram every three years instead of annually, she said. And it can predict the risk of hospital readmissions too, she added, “which is a big financial driver for hospitals.”
Carr speculates that all large health systems are getting into the predictive analytics space, adding that insurance companies have been using it for years to predict population health based on ZIP code, health history and socioeconomic factors.
Founded in 1968, Nashville-based HCA Healthcare is a for-profit system with some 2,000 care locations - including 186 hospitals - in 20 states and the United Kingdom.
Google Cloud, which “aims to accelerate companies’ digital transformation,” says it has business customers in more than 200 countries.
A spokesman for HCA said the company would have no comment beyond a press release and a Google spokeswoman did not return calls.
But in that release, HCA CEO Sam Hazen said that “next-generation care demands data science-informed decision support so we can more sharply focus on safe, efficient and effective patient care.”
And Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian said, “The cloud can be an accelerant for innovation in health, particularly in driving data interoperability, which is critical in streamlining operations and providing better quality of care to improve patient outcomes.”
Meanwhile, Adam Landau, vice president of marketing and corporate affairs for HCA’s South Atlantic Division, said in an email that it’s too early to know what the partnership will mean for its South Carolina hospitals - Colleton Medical Center in Walterboro, Grand Strand Medical Center in Myrtle Beach and Trident Health, which consists of Trident Medical Center in Charleston and Summerville Medical Center in Summerville.
“I can tell you that we’re proud to be a part of HCA Healthcare,” he said. “In combination with significant investments in mobility to support clinical care … this partnership accelerates the work of HCA Healthcare clinicians, data scientists and developers by providing highly scalable technology from Google Cloud.”
For example, he said, technology has been developed using predictive analytics that helps detect sepsis early, potentially saving lives. Another application uses clinical observations and ventilator-streamed data to reduce the length of stay for patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and increase survival rates of Covid patients by 28 percent, he said.
Brown said that health care is behind other consumer-driven industries in delivering on 21st century data technology.
“One thing the … industry has been behind on is this whole consumer experience and digitalization of that over the last years,” she said. “Customers are expecting and demanding easier access to health care, they want to do so virtually from home, and in other formats that previously weren’t commonplace.”
MUSC is using data analytics to help identify gaps in care, to map workflow so the system is more efficient, and to reduce wait times for patients, among other things, she said.
A partnership with Medtronic uses more consistent monitoring technology in hospitalized patients to reduce the number of adverse respiratory events in patients prescribed opioids, she said. Another project aims to prevent hospitalizations by catching patients with heart failure and intervening earlier.
MUSC also worked with Microsoft using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to detect and address potentially deadly sepsis in hospitalized patients, she said.
Prisma said its 10-year partnership with Siemens will use AI to develop algorithms to help clinicians make more informed decisions, allowing for quicker and more precise diagnoses and treatment plans.
Some of the AI will be embedded in new imaging machines as software while other AI will be developed through the partnership. Siemens will also have health economists on site studying new technologies to see if they reduce health care costs.
But with a growing number of entities gaining access to patient information, just how secure are arrangements like these?
Nationwide, the number of health information data breaches affecting 500 or more people grew from 329 in 2016 to 648 in 2020, with hacking events growing from 78 to 230 and ransomware attacks soaring from 36 to 199 during that time frame, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Ransomware is a multibillion-dollar industry, said James Andrew Lewis, senior vice president and director of the Strategic Technologies Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
And hospitals make good targets because attackers are purely about the money and go after what will generate the most return, he added.
“You can hack a hospital and make $4 million or hack an individual and make $4,000,” he said. “These guys like bulk business. Not onesies or twosies.”
Most hospitals pay because it’s not worth the hassle, Lewis said.
Some have insurance to cover ransomware attacks. But most attackers hone in on what they think the target can afford and go for that at the hospitals that are easier to breach, he said. And if they think the hospital can pay $4 million, they’ll start out asking for $6 million, he said.
So moving to the cloud makes sense, Lewis said, because while it’s not impossible to hack, it is much more difficult and could be more secure. A lot depends on the terms of the contract, such as where the data will be stored and how it will limit the risk to privacy, he said.
Both Google and HCA say their arrangement will protect patient privacy and data by using “layers of security controls and processes” and complying with federal privacy requirements.
“The partnership is founded on strict guiding principles around privacy and security,” Landau said. “Our contract prohibits Google Cloud from the use of patient identifiable information.”
Brown said MUSC also only uses deidentified patient data for its projects. That means information like names and addresses are removed but relevant clinical data remain, subject to privacy guide rails, she said.
“Cybersecurity is a huge issue globally across all industries, and health care is no different,” she said. “Any arrangement … has to be done with utmost scrutiny to make sure patients are kept first, and commit to making sure they are protected.”
A lot of the push for these types of relationships comes from hospitals looking to solve complex health care problems on a large scale, said MUSC chief information security officer Aaron Heath.
Machine learning is helping to do that with the use of lots of data, he said, but when those two intersect, there has to be a mechanism to share the least amount of data necessary.
At the end of the day, he said, a hospital doesn’t need to put patient privacy on the hook to solve its problems.
“If we want to solve for sepsis in the hospital - detect it often and early and respond quickly - we don’t have to share patient data,” he said. “Hospitals are … only sharing the minimum amount of data to accomplish goals.”
Nonetheless, he said, it’s not without risk and hospitals need to have contracts with digital companies that prevent data from being used for any other purpose.
“There are a lot of controls we can take,” he said, “because it’s really important.”
Prisma Health said that protecting patient privacy is critical and that it has multiple systems and checks in place to safeguard it.
“As part of our Siemens Healthineers’ intelligent insights center, we will use de-identified, blinded patient data,” spokeswoman Sandy Dees said in a statement. “Under no circumstances will specific identifiers such as names, birth dates or addresses be used.”
When it comes to ransomware, hospitals are in a tough position because they can’t stop business for an attack, said Heath. MUSC has layers of defense designed to mitigate the ransomware threat so if one is breached, another kicks in, he said.
“You may not get hit by ransomware, but I can assure you your system is being targeted by phishing emails,” he said. “We are monitoring systems at all times to look for and flag potential phishing emails and get them out of our system because it’s such a common (and easy) avenue of attack. We have seen phishing emails come in to us intended to ultimately trigger an attack, but have caught them.”
A significant problem in dealing with ransomware is that most attacks come from outside the U.S. and there’s a lack of international law enforcement to allay it, Heath said.
“It’s a real challenge to stop this activity across the globe because it can be conducted from anywhere,” he said.
So MUSC invests “quite a bit” in new technology and the staff to support it, he said. And the system is constantly monitoring security and conducting training because cybercrime is a moving target that requires frequent adjustments, he said.
Still, Lewis said that ransomware “is not rocket science,” and that hospitals should be able to deal with it by backing up and encrypting data and spending more on IT to keep current.
“A big cloud provider makes you more secure. It’s their business,” he said. “Hospitals - their business is patient care, and (those) that invest proactively are better able to protect data.”
A federal health care cybersecurity task force established by HHS produced a report in 2017 that outlined ways to improve protection of health information, among them increasing the security and resilience of medical devices and health IT like electronic medical records; ensuring that the health care workforce prioritizes cybersecurity; and enhancing health care industry readiness through improved cybersecurity awareness and education.
“It’s sad we have to do this,” Lewis said. “But it’s the world we’re in and we have to pay more attention.”
SCBIO takes aim at growing the presence of women in the life sciences industry see more
While COVID-19 brought the life sciences industry squarely into the world’s spotlight, the industry has been growing rapidly around the globe — and here in South Carolina — for quite some time. From gene editing and stem cell research to health data analytics and telemedicine, amazing advances in next generation pharmaceuticals and vaccines, medical devices, diagnostics, digital health, bio-agriculture and more are reshaping our world, while also saving and improving lives.
Life sciences in South Carolina are on a growth spurt accelerated by the pandemic. The number of firms in the industry has doubled since 2017, making it the fastest-growing industry sector in the state. The Moore School of Business estimated its annual economic impact at $12 billion and over 43,000 employees — even before COVID’s surge of growth.
To fully realize the opportunity that life sciences represent for South Carolina, the Board of Directors of SCBIO have placed a priority on increasing diversity and inclusion in the industry here at home — with action replacing perfunctory policies. Those efforts are bearing fruit.
As the official life sciences industry organization for South Carolina, SCBIO has implemented a range of commitments, actions, and programs to encourage advancement for individual women and minorities, cultivate the next generations of female leaders, and strengthen and deepen the bench of talented women workers and leaders in organizations statewide.
Among SCBIO’s numerous initiatives are:
Leading by Example – Besides my role as Interim CEO, women comprise some 25% of SCBIO’s board of directors today, which is led by a female Board Chairman, Lou Kennedy, CEO and Founder of Nephron Pharmaceuticals. The Board has also launched a new Life Sciences Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council to support leadership development of women and minorities. The 2021-2022 SCBIO Strategic Plan for SC Life Sciences has an entire section dedicated to encouraging expanded women and minority participation in the industry.
Relationship Building – Lt. Governor Pamela Evette, Chief External Affairs Officer for MUSC Caroline Brown, and Vikor Scientific’s Partner & Co-Founder Shea Harrelson are a few of many visible leaders actively encouraging young women to expand relationships across life sciences. This network of women leaders is deep and growing, consisting of female leaders in education, manufacturing, logistics, research, medicine, government, economic development and more who reach out to support each other’s development, share ideas, problem solve and encourage skill growth.
Supporting Career Choice for Young Women – Life science jobs are not just for M.D.s and Ph.Ds, but for technical college graduates, engineers, and biology and chemistry majors as well. With an average life sciences position paying $79,000 here, SCBIO is promoting the industry as a career path to students, guidance counselors and parents at the K-12 and two- and four-year college levels. It is also developing an industry-advocated curriculum for technical colleges covering industry prescribed manufacturing processes, safety and technical protocols, soft skills and more. A recent statewide Young Women in Life Sciences ZOOM drew over 500 high school attendees from dozens of schools across the state to learn about careers in life sciences.
Connecting Young Women – Via events and community outreach such as Virtual Meetups for women in the industry and a Women in Life Sciences Visit with our Lt. Governor, SCBIO is connecting women at all levels of life sciences organizations across the state to share information on career paths, leading teams, personal development, handling difficult conversations, encouraging innovation and more to help them connect and learn together — and encourage others they know to consider the industry as a career path.
Establishing New Partnerships – New partnerships such as serving as Presenting Sponsor of Furman University’s Women’s Leadership Institute and providing scholarships at the BMW-SYNNEX 2021 Women’s Executive Luncheon create new opportunities to have life sciences as a visible part of the discussion.
Now more than ever, women in life sciences are leading the way to the industry’s rapid growth and expansion in South Carolina… and around the world. Here at home, SCBIO is working to inspire women of all ages to choose, grow and thrive in this dynamic industry by relying on, inspiring and supporting each other to attain even greater levels of success.
The future is bright and getting even brighter as more women step up to lead the way to a brighter tomorrow.
More than $19 million in grants to several key connected health projects see more
The federal government is investing more than $19 million in key telehealth initiatives, including the National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers (TRCs) and Telehealth Centers of Excellence (COE) program.
Some 36 awards are being distributed by the Health and Human Services Department through the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Office for the Advancement of Telehealth to some of the nation’s highest-profile connected health projects. The investments are aimed at strengthening programs and supporting innovation in areas that have seen record adoption and growth during the pandemic.
“Telehealth expands access to care and is a vital tool for improving health equity by providing timely clinical assessment and treatment for our most vulnerable populations,” HRSA Acting Administrator Diana Espinosa said in a press release issued this morning. “This funding will help drive the innovation necessary to build clinical networks, educational opportunities, and trusted resources to further advance telehealth.”
The TRC consortium, which consists of 12 regional and two national centers, is getting $4.55 million – or $325,000 per site - to bolster and expand their efforts. The TRCs, which provide a wide range of guidance and resources, have seen heavy traffic over the past year and a half as healthcare providers and other organizations have adopted telehealth to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.
The Telehealth COE program, meanwhile, is getting $6.5 million to expand services and strategies aimed at improving access and outcomes in underserved parts of the country that deal with high chronic care needs and poverty, and to serve as incubators for new telehealth ideas. Located in academic medical centers, COEs are seen as national models for evidence-based programs and strategies that promote best practices.
In 2017, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) were designated Telehealth Centers of Excellence. The award is being split between the two programs.
The Evidence-Based Direct-to-Consumer Telehealth Network Program (EB-TNP) is getting roughly $3.8 million to bolster its DTC telehealth efforts. Those awards are being issued to 11 organizations: HealthHIE Georgia, Cornerstone Whole Healthcare in Idaho, Drake University in Iowa, the University of Kansas Medical Center Research Institute, Baptist Health Foundation Corbin in Kentucky, MaineHealth, UMMC, Lester E. Cox Medical University in Missouri, the Ben Archer Health Center in New Mexico, East Carolina University in North Carolina and Texas A&M University.
Finally, the Telehealth Technology-Enabled Learning Program (TTELP) is getting about $4.28 million to “help specialists at academic medical centers provide training and support to primary care providers in rural, frontier, and other underserved areas to help treat patients with complex conditions ranging from long COVID to substance use disorders in their communities.”
Those awards are going to nine organizations: Community Health Center in Connecticut, the American Academy of Pediatrics in Illinois, the University of Kansas Medical Center Research Institute, Medical Care Development in Maine, the JSI Research and Training Institute in Massachusetts, President and Fellows of Harvard College in Massachusetts, the University of New Mexico, Oregon Health & Science University and the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust.
Exciting new development from MUSC co-founded technology see more
SpheroFill, a company co-founded by Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) researcher William Hill, Ph.D., is helping to convert swords into plowshares with more than a quarter million dollars in funding from a National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Technology Transfer grant. Hill is a professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at MUSC and a research scientist at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center.
Hill and SpheroFill are developing microsphere technology to create a unique oral drug delivery platform that will allow for protected, controlled release of drugs over time. The microsphere technology was originally created for strategic purposes by the Department of Energy at the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) and then converted for civilian purposes by the Applied Research Center (ARC) in Aiken, South Carolina.
The other co-founders of SpheroFill are George Wicks, Ph.D., of ARC, and ENT-otolaryngologist Paul Weinberger, M.D. Wicks co-invented the microsphere technology while at the SRNL. Together with MUSC and ARC, the three inventors have submitted a patent on the oral and other drug delivery approaches.
Hill, who serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief scientific officer, is excited about the collaboration between SpheroFill, MUSC and ARC.
“The Applied Research Center is a nonprofit research and development organization established to transfer technology from the SRNL and academic institutions and to assist start-up companies where possible,” explained Hill. “It is the value of the taxpayers’ investment being amplified into novel uses that can create new jobs and expand the economy of South Carolina. ARC’s goal is to build a technology base in Aiken County and the state. Importantly, ARC has been a key initial investor for us.”
The microspheres are hollow spheres with a large cargo capacity contained by a porous silica glass outer shell. Complex nanoscale channels connect the interior cargos with the outside world.
“A microsphere is about a third the diameter of a human hair,” said Hill. “You can actually load the microspheres with different cargos, drugs in this case, and then control the release rate of materials coming out of them.”
Once in the body, the microspheres will release the drug as the outer coating degrades and the nanopores open. The technology could help pharmaceutical companies overcome a serious hurdle in developing oral drugs. Drugs taken by mouth often break down in the harsh environment of the gastrointestinal system.
“The pharmaceutical industry has a large number of drugs that are difficult to deliver orally – either because they don't dissolve very well in the aqueous system that we have in our gastrointestinal tract, or because they are very reactive and will be broken down very quickly by enzymes there,” said Hill.
By encasing the drugs, the microspheres protect them from this harsh environment and enable them to reach their target locations, where they release their contents. As a result, less drug is wasted, which is a savings for both pharmaceutical companies and consumers. This will be particularly important with expensive drugs and newer sensitive biological drugs.
The technology not only allows more efficient delivery of existing oral drugs, but it also makes possible the oral delivery of new types of drugs.
“There is also an ability to deliver drugs in ways that they never could have been delivered before, such as in gaseous form” said Hill. “We're trying to develop new ways to deliver agents that aren't really drugs now because they're just too difficult to use as drugs.”
Hill is excited by the possibilities. With the technology, he speculates that insulin could be delivered orally instead of injected under the skin. Chemotherapy and other cancer treatments, which typically affect the entire body, could be released directly into a tumor, helping to spare healthy tissue.
The technology could also help patients with better medication compliance. Many drugs, such as antibiotics, must be taken daily over several days. When patients begin feeling better, they may discontinue taking the medication prematurely, leading to drug resistance and other problems.
“SpheroFill allows patients to have effective drug dosing over extended time, so the patient only has to take the drug once or possibly twice,” said Hill.
At MUSC, Hill’s research team is working on testing different polymers that can serve as coatings for the microspheres, with the aim of having different drug-release rates with different coatings, ranging from days to months.
“The cool thing is that you can have microspheres with different thicknesses of coatings or entirely different coatings, which will release materials at different rates,” said Hill. “And we can mix them together to have overlapping or sequential releases of the same or different drugs for an extended period of time,” said Hill.
The team is working on controlling drug release by measuring release rates for different coatings. Once Hill and his team complete this step, they will next study how well the microspheres with the different coatings work as a drug-delivery platform, first in animals and then in humans.
Hill believes that the support from the NSF is an important milestone for Spherofill and is grateful to the MUSC Foundation for Research Development for its help with the application.
“It’s exciting to get this stamp of approval from the NSF,” said Hill. This hard-to-acquire support says that it believes the technology and the company are worth the investment to help with technical development and assistance through its strong commercialization infrastructure. This will also help to open doors for us to partners and customers.”
In addition to improving drug delivery, SpheroFill and its partners also hope to support the South Carolina economy by bringing research and development, high-tech and pharmaceutical jobs to Charleston, Aiken and other areas of the state.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson see that economic potential.
“The funding will allow SpheroFill to create advancements in the medical field, and I appreciate NSF working to help turn this into a reality,” said Graham.
Wilson, too, acknowledged the NSF’s generous funding of SpheroFill’s valuable collaboration.
“The synergy between SpheroFill, the Applied Research Center and the Savannah River National Laboratory has allowed this research to gain momentum, providing transformative opportunities in medical treatments,” said Wilson. “I am grateful that NSF recognized and rewarded the talent here in our community.”
About the Medical University of South Carolina
Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is home to the oldest medical school in the South as well as the state’s only integrated academic health sciences center, with a unique charge to serve the state through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and nearly 800 residents in six colleges: Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. MUSC brought in more than $271 million in biomedical research funds in fiscal year 2020, continuing to lead the state in obtaining National Institutes of Health funding, with more than $129.9 million. For information on academic programs, visit musc.edu.
As the clinical health system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest quality patient care available while training generations of competent, compassionate health care providers to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Comprising some 2,000 beds, more than 100 outreach sites, the MUSC College of Medicine, the physicians’ practice plan and nearly 275 telehealth locations, MUSC Health owns and operates eleven hospitals situated in Charleston, Chester, Fairfield, Florence, Kershaw, Lancaster and Richland counties. In 2021, for the seventh consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit muschealth.org.
MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets of $4.6 billion. The more than 20,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers and scientists who deliver groundbreaking education, research, technology and patient care.
Lecture hall in new facility to be named for donor see more
A lecture hall in the college’s new pharmacy facility will be named the Bobby Gene ‘63 and Barbara Harter Rippy Lecture Hall.
Noted Union, South Carolina, philanthropist Barbara Harter Rippy has made a $1 million commitment to the College of Pharmacy at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). The donation will support the mission and vision of the college.
In recognition of this major gift, the college is naming the lecture hall in its new pharmacy facility the Bobby Gene ‘63 and Barbara Harter Rippy Lecture Hall. A virtual groundbreaking for the new facility was held in April.
“The Rippys exemplify the best characteristics of independent community pharmacy ownership,” said Philip Hall, Pharm.D., dean of the MUSC College of Pharmacy. “Trusted caregivers, community leaders, dedicated to customers, good businesspeople and great models for our students. We’re delighted the Rippy name will have such a prominent place at MUSC.”
For 34 years, the Rippys owned and operated Smith Drug Store on Main Street in Union. In 1959, Bobby Rippy enrolled at the MUSC College of Pharmacy while Barbara Rippy continued to work, supporting the family until her husband earned a pharmacy degree that would eventually enable them to buy Smith Drug Store in 1969.
The Rippys became community leaders and benefactors, supporting civic and church organizations as well as sponsoring a Dixie Youth baseball team for 44 years. They retired in 2004 and continued to be vibrant and active parts of Union civic life, participating in and supporting more than a half dozen organizations. Bobby Rippy passed away in 2012.
The Rippys have long been known for their generosity of spirit; they were giving back when they barely had anything to give. Barbara Rippy credits God first for her ability to give so generously. Not long after opening the pharmacy, when a customer had charged children’s prescriptions four times in a row, Bobby Rippy said, “As long as I live, and I’ve got any money, no child will go without their medication.” They stuck by that maxim, and when they closed, they were still owed $75,000.
“We didn’t miss one dime of that,” Barbara Rippy said. “When you’re good to people, they are good to you. After all the professors did for Bobby to help him become a pharmacist, I told Larry that I wanted to give the College of Pharmacy $1 million so that students for years to come would have the same opportunity to fulfill their dreams of becoming pharmacists as well,” she explained, recounting her conversation with Larry Craine, her longtime financial advisor.
The lecture hall named after the Rippys in the new pharmacy facility reflects that special bond between student and professors. The state-of-the-art lecture hall is dedicated for pharmacy instruction, making it a vital and highly visible site of shared experience for every MUSC pharmacy student and faculty member.
“Having a dedicated lecture hall for them to learn and interact is essential,” said Chris Wisniewski, Pharm.D., professor and nationally acclaimed expert in pharmacy education. “New space with new technology allows faculty to experiment in the educational realm and identify new ways to educate our students.”
MUSC completes purchase of hospitals see more
Providence Health is no more in the Capital City.
The hospital, originally founded by the Catholic Sister of Charity, is now state-owned MUSC Health Columbia Medical Center, following the finalization of its purchase by MUSC Health University Medical Center.
With the $75 million purchase South Carolina’s second-largest hospital system added Providence’s downtown and northeast facilities to its fleet of care centers around the state, as well as the former KershawHealth hospital in Camden — now known as MUSC Health Kershaw Medical Center — and the emergency room in Fairfield County — now known as MUSC Health Fairfield Emergency and Imaging.
The hospitals were previously owned by Tennessee-based for-profit LifePoint Health.
All of LifePoint’s existing 2,000 employees were offered to remain on staff under the new ownership, said MUSC Health CEO Dr. Pat Cawley said.
The deal takes MUSC to more than 2,000 beds and 19,000 employees across the state.
Buying Providence Health is the latest in MUSC’s major expansion outside of its Charleston base where it had been contained for nearly 200 years before it branched outside the area for the first time with the acquisition of four community hospitals in 2019. The public, nonprofit health system receives financial support out of the state budget.
The deal comes months after Prisma Health, the state’s largest health care system terminated its own agreement to purchase LifePoint’s facilities. Prisma, which operates three major hospitals in Columbia, abandoned its efforts April 9 after it was plagued for more than a year by legal and regulatory challenges.
Had the purchase been finalized, it would have taken the Columbia area down to two hospital systems — Prisma and Lexington Medical Center. And it would have made the state’s largest system even larger.
7 years in a row for MUSC see more
MUSC Health University Medical Center in Charleston was named by U.S. News & World Report for the seventh year in a row as the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina, with three of MUSC Health’s specialty areas ranking among the best in the entire country: ear, nose and throat; gynecology and cancer.
Seventeen other MUSC Health programs are considered “high performing” specialties, procedures or conditions in the 2021-2022 U.S. News & World Report rankings: gastroenterology and GI surgery, abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, aortic valve surgery, heart attack, heart bypass surgery, heart failure, back surgery (spinal fusion), hip replacement, kidney failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer surgery, pneumonia, stroke, colon cancer surgery, rheumatology, orthopedics and urology.
In addition, MUSC Health Florence Medical Center is designated as “high performing” in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure, heart attack and kidney failure.
“Once again, South Carolinians can take great pride and comfort in the knowledge that their only public, statewide hospital system is consistently cited as one of the best in the country,” said Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., MUSC Health CEO and MUSC vice president for Health Affairs, University. “It’s a transformational time in health care and these rankings are a testament to our care team’s commitment to ensure that our patients are receiving the right care, in the right place and at the right time. The achievements in our Charleston and Florence divisions made despite the pandemic should remind us all what’s possible through innovation, teamwork, and growth.”
U.S. News & World Report unveiled the 32th edition of the Best Hospitals rankings at https://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/rankings. Designed to help patients with life-threatening or rare conditions identify hospitals that excel in treating the most difficult cases, Best Hospitals 2021-22 includes consumer-friendly data and information on 4,750 medical centers nationwide in 15 specialties and 17 procedures and conditions. In the 15 specialty areas, 175 hospitals were ranked in at least one specialty. In rankings by state and metro area, U.S. News & World Report recognized hospitals as high performing across multiple areas of care.
“I am so proud that U.S. News & World Report has recognized MUSC Health Florence Medical Center as high performing in four areas – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure, heart attack and kidney failure,” said Jay Hinesley, MUSC Health Florence Division CEO. “The last year has been a challenge for everyone in health care, and these recognitions are a true testament to all the hard work of our care team members and their dedication to our patients, families and communities. We are committed to continuing to preserve and optimize human life in South Carolina and beyond.”
The U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals methodologies, in most areas of care, are based largely or entirely on objective measures such as risk-adjusted survival and readmission rates, volume, patient experience, patient safety and quality of nursing, among other care-related indicators.
1. - U.S. News & World Report’s produced Best Hospitals with RTI International, a leading research organization based in Research Triangle Park, N.C.
Issues over $3 million in funds to colleges, universities see more
SCRA has announced the funding of over $3.3 million to selected colleges and universities for translational research projects to address key challenges facing the state’s industrial base. SCRA’s funding is being matched by the academic institutions and industry partners, bringing the total amount of the projects to over $6.7 million.
The projects are being funded through the SCRA-Academia Collaboration Team (SACT) program. The goal of the SACT is to connect industry with multi-institutional academic teams and build bridges among the institutions to foster engagement and advance technologies, many of which will enter the marketplace and lead to the creation of South Carolina-based jobs.
- $1.8 million was awarded to Clemson University to modernize South Carolina’s manufacturing assets to enable Industry 4.0 (the ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices, using modern smart technology). Clemson is partnering with the University of South Carolina, the Medical University of South Carolina, South Carolina State University, Greenville Technical College, and Trident Technical College.
- $1.2 million was awarded to the University of South Carolina to enable factory-to-factory networking for the future of manufacturing operations. The University is partnering with Clemson University, Greenville Technical College, and Midlands Technical College.
- $305,000 was awarded to Francis Marion University to improve workforce readiness and capabilities in South Carolina. The University is partnering with The Citadel.
“I’m energized by the opportunities and positive outcomes from this intersection of academic research, entrepreneurship, and industry in the state. These collaborations provide the greatest potential for innovation, economic growth, and overall advancement of the region,” said Kella Player, SCRA Program Manager.
SCRA’s program directors and industry advisors will review the progress on these SACT research projects on an ongoing basis. Funds will be provided in stages as milestones are met.
“We are fortunate to have high-quality research and development being conducted at our state’s colleges and universities. Many of the technologies on which they are working today will produce the new companies of tomorrow. It’s a honor for SCRA to support these collaborations,” said Bob Quinn, SCRA Executive Director.
Since 2018, SACT grants have funded 17 collaborations among South Carolina-based academic institutions and 41 industry partners. These projects have produced an 8:1 multiple in additional funding from other sources such as industry and the federal government.
SCRA grants are funded in part by the Industry Partnership Fund (IPF). IPF contributors are South Carolina businesses and individuals who receive a dollar-for-dollar state tax credit for investing in the state’s innovation economy.
Goal to develop innovative products focused on improving the health of state residents see more
The Medical University of South Carolina’s Department of Surgery Human-Centered Design Program and The Citadel Tommy and Victoria Baker School of Business Innovation Lab will collaborate on a joint effort.
The program will create a core team of medical students, residents and Citadel cadets and students who will develop innovative products focused on improving the health of state residents, MUSC said in a news release.
Both programs similarly promote innovative thinking. The BSB Innovation Lab focuses on teaching students the value of ground-breaking thinking and offers then the chance and guidance to invent and helm business ideas, build out a business plan and pitch ideas to investors.
MUSC’s HCD program was founded to develop original ways to solve unmet surgical and medical needs. The program is led by Joshua Kim and was established under the leadership of chief of surgical oncology Dr. David Mahvi and vice chair of research Michael Yost, Ph.D.
The two programs were brought together in March 2020 when the country faced protective mask shortages, particularly N-95 versions, as the pandemic picked up pace.
During that time, Kim’s team of biomedical engineers and medical professionals developed plans for 3D-printed masks. The BSB Innovation Lab then collaborated with MUSC to print more than 500 masks to help to resolve the region’s shortage.
“Through this new partnership, we can seamlessly innovate a design, develop a business plan and produce products that improve patient care,” said Mahvi.
By coming together, the partnership promotes collaboration, academic growth and learning opportunities students may not have experienced in their respective schools. Residents and medical students are immersed in business training and entrepreneurship skills, while business students are exposed to the health care system.
By working together, Capt. James Bezjian, director of the Innovation Lab and an assistant professor of strategy and entrepreneurship in the Baker School of Business, said the schools are able to work on projects that have “life-changing” capabilities.
“The relationship the BSB Innovation Lab built with MUSC during the height of the pandemic provided an opportunity for us to partner and continue working toward improving the lives of medical professionals and the patients they take care of,” Bezjian said.
BridgeBio Pharma Announces Collaboration with MUSC Foundation for Research Development, 2 Other Research InstitutionsWill identify and advance therapies for genetic diseases and cancers see more
BridgeBio Pharma, Inc. (Nasdaq: BBIO), a commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company founded to discover, create, test and deliver meaningful medicines for patients with genetic diseases and cancers with clear genetic drivers, today announced three new academic collaborations with MUSC Foundation for Research Development, Stanford University and the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) to translate cutting-edge discoveries into potential therapies for patients with genetic diseases and genetically driven cancers.
"The chance to partner with exceptional researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina, Stanford University and University of Pittsburgh is a privilege, and we believe will help us advance our mission to discover, create, test and deliver life-changing medicines for patients in need as rapidly as possible," said BridgeBio founder and CEO Neil Kumar, Ph.D.
To date, BridgeBio has worked with 23 leading institutions throughout the country that are focused on providing treatment options to patients as quickly and safely as possible. For a list of some of the institutions BridgeBio is partnered with, please visit Our Partners page.
MUSC Foundation for Research Development
MUSC Foundation for Research Development provides technology transfer services to Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), which is a patient-centric research institution with several hospitals in South Carolina and is considered the state's top healthcare provider. MUSC's innovative and high-quality research will allow for early identification of research programs with a strong potential to be beneficial for patients. Through this partnership, BridgeBio may sponsor research programs and support the development of identified programs toward potential clinical investigation through its licensing and affiliate development model.
"Like BridgeBio, we have a patients first mentality, so partnering together on early research will be an excellent opportunity to advance our innovation in the hope of generating new therapies for patients," said Scott Davis, Ph.D., senior director of innovation support and commercialization of MUSC Foundation for Research Development.
About BridgeBio Pharma, Inc.
BridgeBio Pharma (BridgeBio) is a biopharmaceutical company founded to discover, create, test and deliver transformative medicines to treat patients who suffer from genetic diseases and cancers with clear genetic drivers. BridgeBio's pipeline of over 30 development programs ranges from early science to advanced clinical trials and its commercial organization is focused on delivering the company's first two approved therapies. BridgeBio was founded in 2015 and its team of experienced drug discoverers, developers and innovators are committed to applying advances in genetic medicine to help patients as quickly as possible. For more information visit bridgebio.com.
Hospitals are currently part of LifePoint Health see more
During the June meeting, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Medical University Hospital Authority (MUHA) Board of Trustees voted to purchase Providence Health and KershawHealth, which are currently part of LifePoint Health. The acquisition will include three community hospitals, a freestanding emergency department (FSED) and affiliated physician practice locations serving communities in the Midlands.
Providence Health serves Columbia, S.C., and the surrounding region, with two full-service hospitals and a freestanding emergency room. KershawHealth is a full-service medical center located in Camden, S.C., which has been an affiliate of MUSC Health since 2015.
“This is an exciting day for MUSC and for the state as we continue to develop our network with the acquisition of these health care facilities and establish a larger footprint in rural and underserved counties,” said David J. Cole, M.D., FACS, MUSC president. “As the state’s only comprehensive academic health system, we understand that we have a responsibility to enable better access to complex, high-end care while working to facilitate the best-quality local care possible. This acquisition will broaden our ability to serve greater numbers of patients, families and communities and that is a reason to celebrate,” Cole stated.
“MUSC has tremendous potential to meet the growing needs of patients and families around our state. That is why we are excited about today’s announcement. As the only comprehensive health sciences facility in the state, with an unmatched record of patient care and meaningful research, MUSC has the unique capacity to improve health outcomes for those it serves,” said James Lemon, D.M.D., chairman of the MUSC board.
“We are excited about the prospect of joining MUSC Health,” said Terry Gunn, market chief executive officer of Providence Health and KershawHealth. “Our objective is and has always been positioning our facilities for success so that we can fulfill our purpose of delivering high-quality care close to home. Aligning Providence and Kershaw with a preeminent regional academic health system will benefit our employees, providers and community, giving us new opportunities to change what’s possible in health care for our region.”
“This acquisition has the potential to be transformative for the Midlands and state,” said Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., MUSC Health CEO and vice president for Health Affairs, University. “Our team looks forward to welcoming the patients, families and employees of Providence Health and KershawHealth to the MUSC Health network. We cannot wait to move forward, connecting our education, research and comprehensive health care mission to the three hospitals in Columbia and Camden as well as the freestanding emergency department in Winnsboro and the affiliated practice locations across the Midlands.”
MUSC Health anticipates hiring all active employees in good standing at compensation levels generally consistent with current rates and fair market value. MUSC team members will meet with the administrators at each of the facilities to determine staffing and needs, with the intent to make operations as efficient and successful as possible, maximizing value to patients, families and their respective communities.
“MUSC Health has existing relationships with several of these facilities through our longstanding affiliate network,” Cawley explained. “Incorporating them into our regional hospital network is another step toward fulfilling MUSC’s charge: to provide the right care in the right place at the right time to every patient and family that we encounter. This acquisition supports these efforts by increasing the reach of our network, enhancing our ability to deliver the highest- quality care at maximum efficiency as well as greater value for more communities statewide. We are excited to be fully integrated now with KershawHealth and will continue to work with our present partners and affiliates in the Midlands region to increase health care access and improve health outcomes.”
Terms of the transaction have not yet been disclosed. The transaction can only be finalized after review and approval by the State Fiscal Accountability Authority, which provides fiscal oversight for the state and meets the public sector needs by delivering quality, cost-effective insurance, procurement and engineering services. In addition, other customary regulatory reviews must also be completed.
The MUSC/MUHA Board of Trustees serve as separate bodies to govern the university and hospital. For more information about the MUSC Board of Trustees, visit http://academicdepartments.musc.edu/leadership/board/index.html.
About The Medical University of South Carolina
Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is the oldest medical school in the South as well as the state’s only integrated academic health sciences center, with a unique charge to serve the state through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and nearly 800 residents in six colleges: Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. MUSC brought in more than $271 million in biomedical research funds in fiscal year 2020, continuing to lead the state in obtaining National Institutes of Health funding, with more than $129.9 million. For information on academic programs, visit musc.edu.
As the clinical health system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest-quality patient care available while training generations of competent, compassionate health care providers to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Comprising some 1,600 beds, more than 100 outreach sites, the MUSC College of Medicine, the physicians’ practice plan and nearly 325 telehealth locations, MUSC Health owns and operates eight hospitals situated in Charleston, Chester, Florence, Lancaster and Marion counties. In 2020, for the sixth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit muschealth.org.
MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets of $3.4 billion. The more than 17,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers and scientists who deliver groundbreaking education, research, technology and patient care.
About Providence Health
Providence Health is one of the top-rated health systems in Columbia, SC. In total, Providence employs more than 1,800 dedicated staff. Founded in 1938 by the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, Providence is known statewide for outstanding clinical quality and compassionate care. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid services awarded Providence Health a 4-star rating. The Providence open heart surgery program has consistently ranked in the top 15 percent of open heart programs in the nation. Both orthopedics and cardiac services have received the South Carolina BlueCross BlueShield Blue Distinction Center designation. For more information, visit YourProvidenceHealth.com.
Founded in 1913 as Camden Hospital, KershawHealth is a full-service healthcare system proudly serving its community members in Kershaw County. KershawHealth is a 119-bed medical center and a 20-bed geriatric psychiatric unit. KershawHealth employs more than 700 dedicated staff. For more information, visit www.KershawHealth.org.
About LifePoint Health
LifePoint Health is a leading healthcare company dedicated to Making Communities Healthier®. Through its subsidiaries, it provides quality inpatient, outpatient and post-acute services close to home. LifePoint owns and operates community hospitals, regional health systems, physician practices, outpatient centers and post-acute facilities across the country. More information about the company can be found at www.LifePointHealth.net.
MUSC spinoff helps to manage pharmacy costs for hospitals see more
A Medical University of South Carolina spinoff that built a software platform to help health care systems monitor and manage their pharmaceutical costs has raised more capital.
QuicksortRx Inc. did not disclose the size of the investment round in a written statement issued June 15, saying it was a private transaction.
The company, which has moved its headquarters to the recently completed Charleston Tech Center on Morrison Drive, also has added two local industry veterans to its board.
The new directors at QuicksortRx are Shawn Jenkins and Steve Swanson, who provided the investment capital.
Jenkins is co-founder and the former CEO of Benefitfocus Inc., a Nasdaq-listed traded software firm based on Daniel Island that he helped take public in 2013. He also became a primary benefactor of the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital after he pledged to donate $25 million toward the $390 million project in 2015.
Swanson ran Automated Trading Desk in Mount Pleasant before selling the financial technology business to Wall Street giant Citigroup for $680 million in 2007. He currently serves on the boards of the Bank of South Carolina, YESCarolina and the College of Charleston, among other organizations.
“We are excited to welcome two of Charleston’s great tech business leaders who have shown not only their expertise in building amazing companies, but also their commitment to the Charleston community,” said Jonathan Yantis, CEO of QuicksortRx.
Yantis and co-founder Matt Hebbard launched the company within the MUSC Innovation Center in 2016. The early goal was create a software platform that would allow the sprawling health system to track its pharmaceutical supply chain in real time and make purchasing adjustments to help lower medication expenses.
It was later spun off as AscendRx before being renamed last year.
“Our tools are helping health systems around the country realize millions of dollars in pharmacy purchase savings without increasing workloads for staff,” QuicksortRx said on its website.
More mentoring, better healthcare access for students on teh way see more
In collaboration with the South Carolina Technical College System, Spartanburg Community College (SCC), and Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College (OCTech), Lauren Gellar, Ph.D., division director for Health Care studies at the MUSC College of Health Professions, developed new pre-health professions transfer tracks, specialized academic advising and a mentorship program to support students applying for the online BS in Healthcare Studies program. The institutions are working together to strengthen local communities in South Carolina by providing opportunities for students to live and work within their community while earning a bachelor’s degree. This is the first year that students have been able to register for one of these tracks and between SCC and OCtech, and there are nearly 60 students enrolled.
“I think the keywords are accessibility, opportunity, and affordability,” explains Jenny Williams, dean of Arts and Sciences at SCC. “Our Applied Associates of Science pre-health professions tracks are going to help them be better students while getting them where they need to be much sooner.”
The bachelor’s in science in Healthcare Studies program was created to increase access to the health professions higher education for rural, first-generation and underrepresented minority students across South Carolina. The program allows students to continue working and supporting their families while advancing their education at the only comprehensive academic health sciences center in the state. Many students that apply to the Healthcare Studies program have already earned an associate degree or completed the prerequisite courses at one of 16 two-year colleges within the South Carolina Technical College System.
The new pre-health professions tracks at SCC and OCtech enable students to complete the prerequisite coursework for health professions graduate programs while completing their associate degree. When they’re ready to transfer, they can complete their BS in Healthcare Studies degree at MUSC online and apply to the graduate program of their choice without completing additional coursework. Transfer partnerships like this reduce credit loss and save students money and time. The tracks also help increase awareness of the many career options in the health professions while providing structured support and academic advising. The first tracks developed are Pre-Medicine, Pre-Dental, Pre-Physical Therapy, Pre-Physician Assistant Studies, Pre-Occupational Therapy and Pre-Healthcare Administration.
OCtech’s, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Donna Elmore is thrilled about the collaborative effort. “The opportunity to open so many more doors for our students is very meaningful and exciting,” said Elmore. “The way these tracks and the Healthcare Studies program embrace and value the 2-year professional degree students already have is such an added value for the state of South Carolina.”
Stefanie Gadson Brown, dean of Pre-Health Professions and Workforce Development, believes the way they’ve designed their advising models at OCtech will be a game changer for students. “We want students to make sound decisions on what they want to do and explore that, so when they leave us, they’re not going into a program they don’t really know anything about,” Brown said. “Students gain exposure to what they might be interested in, both clinical and real-world job experience that allows them to earn an income and build a resume while they go to school.”
Many students enroll with a general idea of what they want to do – for example, working with children – but they don’t know what avenues are available. The advising models help students explore their options and find their dream job. Students who are considering more than one pathway can work with their advisor to select the courses that will provide them with insight and experience in each profession so they can make an informed decision on their future.
“Our AAS program gives students the empowerment and connections they need to move along efficiently, achieve their dreams and get to work in a much quicker fashion,” explained Williams. “The paths don’t guarantee admission, but if students do well, they’re going to solidify their own path.”
Gellar has always viewed mentorship as an integral part of the academic experience; she also enjoys it. In addition to the transfer tracks and specialized academic advising, she initiated an MUSC faculty mentorship program for SCTC students and alumni.
This past year Gellar received 15 applicants for the program and is now working directly with five students. They meet monthly to check in on their progress and she guides each student through the college application process. They work on topics including goal setting, academic advisement, career advisement, and soft skills training.
“To me, the mentorship program really speaks volumes to how far MUSC is willing to go to help our students and our community,” says Brown. “MUSC has really simplified the process, and Dr. Gellar goes above and beyond. Sometimes I forget that we don’t work at the same college. Any time I ask, Dr. Gellar is there. That’s how easy and consistent the working relationship is. I can’t say enough good things about the faculty, student services, and admission staff at MUSC.”
Brown has already noticed the impact that partnering with MUSC has had on OCtech and their students. “We always tried to have pathways set up for students, but I think what was really missing was MUSC,” she said.
Registrations Surge, Partnering and Virtual Exhibit Hall Draw Strong Interest see more
A newly announced group of national and state leaders will join Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath in headlining SCBIO's “The Power of Us” virtual conference slated for broadcast Feb. 16-17.
Newly announced additions include Microsoft Vice President Jamie Harper, who leads the global corporation's team supporting both higher education and K-12 initiatives across America, and Bill Stadtlander, Commercial Leader of Verily, the Google subsidiary focused on life sciences and use of health data and AI to improve lives.
At Microsoft, Mr. Harper leads a team that supports higher education and K-12 initiatives impacting students, teachers, and leaders both public and private. He previously has led Microsoft's US Education team and served as the General Manager of ten countries in Asia and South Africa. Prior to Microsoft, Jamie worked for The Coca-Cola Company and Westinghouse Power Generation. He holds an MBA from Emory University, and a degree in Industrial Engineering with a minor in Economics from Clemson University.
Mr. Stadtlander is the Commercial Lead at Verily for Baseline, its end-to-end digital platform solution to transform clinical research by increasing participation, driving efficiency and incorporating novel data. Bill has over 15 years of commercial healthcare experience with prior roles at Ceribell, Element Science, Boston Scientific and McKinsey & Co.'s healthcare practice. He holds an MBA from Wharton, a Master of Biotechnology from University of Pennsylvania, and Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering degrees from MIT.
Also named to speak at SCBIO 2021 are Courtney Christian, Senior Director of Policy and Research at PhRMA and former leader of the Black Women's Health Imperative; Dr. Harris Pastides, former USC President and outgoing chair of the SC Institute of Medicine and Public Health; Dr. Pat Cawley, CEO of MUSC Health; and Dr. Marjorie Jenkins, Dean of the USC School of Medicine - Upstate and Chief Academic Officer of Prisma Health Upstate, among other speakers.
Themed “The Power of Us,” the 2-day SCBIO 2021 virtual event will feature sessions on The Power of Innovation, The Power of Partnership, and The Power of People – each a fundamental force which drives the state’s surging $12 billion industry that is a key contributor to South Carolina’s expanding knowledge economy.
The conference will feature a virtual exhibit hall showcasing scores of life sciences industry organizations from across the country, and presentation of the prestigious Pinnacle Awards by South Carolina Life Sciences to the outstanding 2020 Organization of the Year and Individual of the Year. SCBIO CEO Sam Konduros will deliver the “State of South Carolina’s Life Sciences Industry” address, while attendees can schedule 1-to-1 meetings with top executives through the conference’s Partnering Portal.
Hundreds of life sciences leaders from across the nation are already registered to attend with hundreds more expected. SCBIO's virtual conference is supported by Presenting Sponsor Vikor Scientific, Champion Sponsor Nephron Pharmaceuticals, Keynote Sponsor Medpoint and others. Among leading biotech and med-tech industry brands participating are Nephron, Vikor, BIO, Johnson & Johnson, AVX, PhRMA, Medpoint, AdvaMed, Poly-Med, VWR, Ritedose Corporation, Rhythmlink, SoftBox Systems, ZEUS, Patheon Thermo Fisher, Zverse, Abbott, Alcami and more. All of South Carolina’s research universities – MUSC, Clemson and the University of South Carolina – are represented, as are major healthcare systems, and entities including the South Carolina Department of Commerce, SCRA, South Carolina Hospital Association and others.
Registration is open online at the 2021 Virtual Conference section of www.scbio.org. Registration is free to employees of most SCBIO investors and supporters as well as to students interested in life sciences careers, while faculty and teachers can attend the entire conference for $25. General admission tickets are available for as little as $75. Virtual Exhibit space and sponsorships are also available by inquiring at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SCBIO is South Carolina’s investor-driven economic development organization exclusively focused on building, advancing, and growing the life sciences industry in the state. The industry has a $12 billion economic impact in the Palmetto State, with more than 750 firms directly involved and over 43,000 professionals employed directly or indirectly in the research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental and agricultural biotechnology products.
For additional information on SCBIO or to register for SCBIO 2021, visit www.SCBIO.org.
Greenwood Genetic Center project receives grant to expand access for genetics services see more
The Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC), through the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation, has been awarded a grant of $899,000 from The Duke Endowment for 'Genetics Access for All,' a project to expand access to genetics services for patients and providers.
"In this current era of genomic medicine, there is an increasing demand for clinical genetics services, but our workforce is insufficient to meet this demand, and our current work flows are inefficient," said Mike Lyons, MD, Director of Clinical Services at GGC and lead on the funded project. "This leads to families facing long waits to be evaluated and tested, and subsequent delays in managing and treating their child's condition."
GGC has provided clinical genetics services since 1974; however, with the increase in demand for services, and inability of genetics training programs to keep up with the ensuing workforce demand, patients often wait for six months or longer to be seen.
"This is not just a GGC issue. Genetics clinics around the country are facing wait times that are as long or longer than ours," said Steve Skinner, MD, GGC Director. "And we have found that as genomic technology has been evolving at such a rapid pace, many non-genetics providers do not feel comfortable ordering and interpreting genetic tests on their own."
'Genetics Access for All' proposes a new standard of genetics care by optimizing access for patients and employing a new system of communication to transform how non-genetics providers engage with genetics providers in order to better manage their patients.
In 2019, GGC and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) signed an affiliation agreement with the goal of improving access to genetic services for patients across SC.
One initiative that has grown out of this affiliation is a pilot project with the MUSC Center for Telehealth to develop an electronic consult (e-consult) system for genetics referrals. The project initially offered the option only to a limited number of referring providers in the MUSC system. Funding from The Duke Endowment will allow that project to expand on a much larger scale.
During the first year of the funded project, GGC will implement e-consults through an online platform to allow non-genetics providers to upload patient information, and receive clinical impressions and testing recommendations within two business days. E-consults will help avoid unnecessary referrals, improve communication with non-genetic providers, and enhance efficiency by decreasing the amount of time needed for in-person and telemedicine visits.
In year two, GGC plans to expand the concept to provide electronic patient visits (e-visits) allowing patients to upload their information electronically and quickly receive clinical feedback and recommendations. The goal of e-visits is not to replace in-person or telegenetics visits, but to provide another care option that improves communication with and access for patients.
Lyons says that the ultimate goal of this project is to change the model of genetics care from a long diagnostic odyssey to a more efficient system that decreases unnecessary referrals, expedites diagnoses, and decreases wait times for appointments.
"Through e-consults, we'll be able to more quickly identify patients who need genetic testing and facilitate the appropriate testing," he said. "A rapid diagnosis will allow for more timely and precise management and treatment for all patients impacted by a genetic disorder."
GGC expects to see significant improvements in patient care as the project expands. "Our goals are to complete 50 outpatient and 25 inpatient e-consults and 25 e-visits per month by the end of the grant cycle," said Lyons. "We anticipate this project to dramatically improve wait times for all types of visits, and hope that our success can be translated into a new model for genetics care in clinics nationwide."
About Greenwood Genetic Center
The Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC), founded in 1974, is a nonprofit organization advancing the field of medical genetics and caring for families impacted by genetic disease and birth defects. At its home campus in Greenwood, South Carolina, a talented team of physicians and scientists provides clinical genetic services, diagnostic laboratory testing, educational programs and resources, and research in the field of medical genetics. GGC’s faculty and staff are committed to the goal of developing preventive and curative therapies for the individuals and families they serve. GGC extends its reach as a resource to all residents of South Carolina with satellite offices in Charleston, Columbia, Florence and Greenville. For more information about GGC please visit www.ggc.org.
About The Duke Endowment
Based in Charlotte and established in 1924 by industrialist and philanthropist James B. Duke, The Duke Endowment is a private foundation that strengthens communities in North Carolina and South Carolina by nurturing children, promoting health, educating minds and enriching spirits. Since its founding, it has distributed more than $4 billion in grants. The Endowment shares a name with Duke University and Duke Energy, but all are separate organizations.