In its pursuit to provide accessible cancer care that adheres to global standards while keeping costs in check, the newly inaugurated Healthway Cancer Care Hospital (HCCH) has forged strategic partnerships and maintains close collaboration with both public and private sector partners.
HCCH is part of the Healthway Medical Network (HMN) under Healthway Philippines, Inc. (HPI), which is an Ayala Healthcare Holdings, Inc. (AC Health) company.
On November 24, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. inaugurated HCCH, the first specialty hospital for cancer in the country. Located in Arca South, the 100-bed facility is equipped with 18 chemotherapy infusion units, four operating theaters, two Linear Accelerators (LINACs), and all the essential diagnostic and imaging machines, including PET-CT, optimized for cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment.
The launch of HCCH is a direct response to various healthcare challenges in the Philippines. Among them is the pressing need for affordable and accessible cancer care services to Filipinos.
“We saw that over 100,000 cases a year were diagnosed and estimated that at least another 100,000 were undiagnosed. Of those that were diagnosed, many were diagnosed at a late stage, many left untreated due to the hopelessness and the massive financial burden,” said AC Health President and CEO Paolo Borromeo.
Thus, HCCH seeks to provide more affordable rates for diagnostics, radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery, ultimately providing private cancer care access to more Filipino patients.
“Our vision is to be the leading private cancer care institution, providing world class treatment but at lower cost, so we can extend the best value, private cancer treatment to a broader base of Filipinos,” said Borromeo.
“We will be the most cost competitive private sector cancer facility offering at least 10 to 20 percent lower than the next cheapest one,” he added.
During a media forum held last Tuesday, Borromeo explained that what sets HCCH apart are the various forms of stakeholder collaborations and partnerships that have contributed to the establishment of the facility and allow them to drive down costs.
HCCH has partnered with Cancer Treatment Services International (CTSI), Siemens Healthineers, and Varian to improve patient care delivery through sophisticated medical technology and digitalization. CTSI is a leading oncology services provider that has supported the delivery of safe, quality, and affordable cancer care for nearly two decades, developing multidisciplinary clinical services and solutions for over 100 hospitals, clinics, and physician groups worldwide.
Siemens Healthineers and Varian provide a wide range of advanced oncology-focused medical imaging, radiation treatment, and digital healthcare solutions. Borromeo expressed confidence in the exceptional service they get from these machines, attributing the reduced cost of diagnostics to their strategic partnerships with Siemens and Varian.
AC Health and HCCH are also privileged to have partnered with IFC (International Finance Corporation) for a $100 million 10-year Social Bond, the first of its kind specifically issued for healthcare in the country. As partners, IFC has constantly guided HCCH to learn from international best practices and adhere to global standards, like securing the EDGE certification (green building certification system) for HCCH.
HCCH has likewise partnered with pharmaceutical companies such as Roche, MSD, and AstraZeneca, to implement patient access programs, making it easier for cancer patients to avail of the latest therapies and innovative medicines under these companies.
“Each of those arrangements [with pharmaceutical companies] allow us to carry their cancer medication at affordable rates for our patients,” said Borromeo.
AC Health also seeks to bring down the cost of medications for HCCH patients through its nationwide drugstore chain Generika and its drug importation arm, IE Medica and MedEthix, focused on bringing in high-quality biosimilars and generics.
Borromeo shared that having their own pharmaceutical group is an advantage, allowing them to provide their own generic and biosimilar medications. This unique aspect of the hospital empowers patients with the choice between branded, innovative drugs and biosimilars.
Equally noteworthy is the hospital’s collaboration with the government.
“While this is a private sector driven initiative, hindi po nagkululang ang suporta at pakikipagtulungan ng gobyerno at private sector from the start,” said Borromeo as he emphasized the full support they have been receiving from government agencies such as the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), DOST-Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), and PhilHealth, among others.
Model of care
In addition to partnerships and collaborations, Borromeo, HCCH President and CEO Jaime Ysmael, and HCCH Medical Director Dr. Manuel Roxas elaborated on other key elements that would support the realization of their vision for accessible and affordable cancer care.
“We built this [HCCH] efficiently. The construction, the design is very cost effective,” said Borromeo, adding that the P3 billion investment is low compared to other hospitals of the same type.
Ysmael also explained HCCH’s model of care which is the connected care circles or multidisciplinary integrated practice approach. This approach means a team of doctors collaborates and develops cost-effective treatment plans for each patient. The team can offer bundles or package pricing which are more affordable for the patients. Ysmael said this coordinated care strategy leads to improved patient outcomes.
“Cancer is not one disease but many diseases lumped into one group. Each cancer has its own behavior and requires a certain discipline or expertise. From the medical perspective, cost effectiveness is not just equipment but also appropriate treatment,” said Dr. Roxas.
He related that they were able to develop well-managed teams dedicated to specific cancer types, known as centers of excellence (COE). HCCH has centers of excellence for breast, lung, colorectal, and head and neck cancers, each led by a seasoned leadership team with extensive expertise in developing COE programs.
Nation-building and AC Health ecosystem
Overall, Ayala envisions AC Health as its next core business, having invested over P10 billion since AC Health’s establishment in 2015. This initiative aims to address healthcare gaps, reinforcing AC Health’s commitment to enhancing healthcare infrastructure in the Philippines.
The HCCH will be the central point for oncology for the Healthway Medical Network and the broader AC Health ecosystem. With over P3 billion worth of investment in HCCH, AC Health further showcases their dedication to societal value.
HCCH stands out with robust support from the Healthway Medical Network and the extensive AC Health ecosystem, incorporating pharma and digital health. Leveraging Healthway Medical Network’s 15 outpatient centers (CDO and Davao branches opening by end of the year), four general hospitals, the recently joined FEU-NRMF Medical Center, and digital reach through AC Health’s KonsultaMD app, HCCH plans to extend affordable oncology services nationwide.
This includes a hub-and-spoke model for enhanced consultation access and cancer screening. Moreover, AC Health aims to further enhance access with quality affordable medicines through its Generika drugstore chain, IE Medica, and MedEthix.
For more information, visit https://www.achealth.com.ph/ or head to Facebook for updates and announcements at https://www.facebook.com/ACHealthPHL/