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Highmark Cancer Collaborative launches in Pennsylvania

Highmark Inc.

PITTSBURGH (March 30, 2016) — Highmark Inc, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, today announced its new Highmark Cancer Collaborative. This collaboration between Highmark, Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Cancer Institute and the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center will create a replicable model for the creation and dissemination of best practices in cancer care.

The Highmark Cancer Collaborative consists of a number of interdependent initiatives including implementation of treatment pathways founded on best practices, provider reimbursement methods to reward those best practices and removal of administrative barriers that could impact patients' access to care. Additional components offer access to early stage clinical trials and second opinions for patients with rare and complex cancers at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. "I believe we are unique in how we are integrating these components together, centered around our members," said Ginny Calega, M.D., vice president of strategic clinical solutions at Highmark. "Above all, we want patients to have confidence that they're getting the best possible care."

"Allegheny Health Network, working in collaboration with Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, provides best-in-class, evidence-based clinical care for the complete spectrum of malignant diseases," said David Parda, MD, Chair of the AHN Cancer Institute. "Our goal with this collaborative is to create decision support tools to guide physicians across western Pennsylvania and beyond based on the most advanced medical science. The idea is to reduce pockets of unwarranted variation in cancer care while ensuring that leading-edge cancer treatment protocols are available to everyone who needs them."

The Highmark Cancer Collaborative uses the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines as the basis for its protocols and the decision support software it offers clinicians. Guidelines, protocols, tools, decision support software at the point of patient care for physicians and other oncology professionals are used in collaborative ways and continuously vetted and updated by leading experts in the field including oncologists from the AHN Cancer Institute.

AHN's Cancer Institute is a leading center for cancer clinical trials, offering patients access to state-of-the-art technologies and innovative therapies being explored in Phase 2 and 3 studies. The Institute also serves as a gateway to additional clinical trials — including Phase 1 and 2 studies being conducted at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

"Clinical trials are critical to developing new methods of preventing, detecting and treating cancer, and patients who participate in them gain access to the very latest research and innovative treatments," noted William Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. "In addition, we look forward to collaborating with AHN's Cancer Institute, offering second opinions for Highmark members with rare and complex cancers. Together we can create value by applying tumor level expertise to the process of making cancer treatment decisions for these rare and complex cancers, assuring that patients are treated for the right tumor, at the right time, in the right setting."

Dr. Calega notes that the Cancer Collaborative also aims to transform the cancer patient's experience by maximizing their comfort, safety, outcomes and financial well-being. Working to benefit members by lowering their costs, the collaborative is partnering on strategies to bend the cost curve so members pay less for medications. Where medically appropriate, patients are encouraged to receive treatments in alternative sites of care in more convenient and cost-effective settings outside of the hospital. Options may include their doctor's office, specialized outpatient infusion centers, or their own home.

Although the Highmark Cancer Collaborative currently serves Highmark members in western Pennsylvania, the goal is to replicate the model and expand the support offered to physicians and patients in additional Highmark markets.

About Highmark Inc.

Highmark Inc. is among the ten largest health insurers in the United States and is the fourth-largest Blue Cross and Blue Shield-affiliated company. Highmark and its diversified businesses and affiliates operate health insurance plans in Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia that serve 5.2 million members. Its diversified health businesses serve group customer and individual health needs across the United States through dental insurance, vision care and other related health businesses. Highmark is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For more information, visit www.highmark.com.

For more information, contact:
Wendy Morphew
Highmark Inc.
412-544-3616
wendy.morphew@highmarkhealth.org