Leading the way in clinical innovation & early cancer detection: A conversation with Kate Wallis

Kate Wallis is the vice president of clinical innovation at Point32Health. In this role, she leads a team of professionals with diverse career backgrounds that seek to advance health care technology solutions to improve care and outcomes. Most recently, Wallis was named to the steering committee for CancerX, the public-private partnership that launched last March to harness the power of innovation to help achieve the goals of the Cancer Moonshot program. We recently spoke with Kate to learn more about the work of our Clinical Innovation team and how her work with CancerX aligns with the mission and goals of Point32Health.

Q: Point32Health is a member of CancerX – what does that mean for our organization, and for you as our representative on the steering committee?

Kate Wallis: As a member of CancerX, Point32Health members will have early access to all CancerX activities to meet cancer moonshot goals to decrease cancer-related deaths by 50% and improve the experience of our members and families living with and surviving cancer. As many of us have been impacted, in some way, by cancer, we feel it’s imperative to join this mission in reducing the impact of cancer and improving our member experience when it comes to the diagnosis, treatment and survival of cancer.

Beyond the aspirations of the moonshot, our work has propelled Point32Health to the national stage and solidified our position as a provider of thought leadership in using innovation to catalyze interventions and outcomes in healthcare. Our work with CancerX will enhance our brand in the marketplace as we work towards advancing digital innovation in oncology.

As our representative on the steering committee, this is a unique opportunity to represent Point32Health and work towards the identification, support and growth of world-class solutions in oncology. Our collaboration with other stakeholders will allow Point32Health to reduce the burden of cancer for all people.

Q: So far, what has your work with the CancerX entailed?

KW: So far, our work with CancerX has entailed participation in the inaugural meetings to generate ideas and drive collaboration with other members of the CancerX community. The first meeting was held in September and occurred in Washington, D.C. Over 120+ other organizations were in attendance, intending to align the priorities and activities of CancerX. As a steering committee member, Point32Health was also invited to The White House to discuss and align the priorities and activities of CancerX with the broader cancer moonshot.

Despite the early stages of this initiative, our work is now focused on the formulation of demonstration projects, which are implementation projects that will pilot novel, mission-aligned approaches to demonstrate their value and sustainability for scale to drive broad adoption. Lastly, work is underway to launch the CancerX Accelerator, a program to provide mentorship, education, and exposure to funding and clinical partnership opportunities to a start-up cohort aligned with the mission.

Q: Why were we chosen as an organization to be involved with CancerX?

KW: With the inception of the Clinical Innovation Department and the formation of Point32Health, a primary goal was to use innovation as a differentiator in the payor marketplace and within the larger healthcare community. In a short time, our work and thought leadership in clinical innovation has been recognized nationally. As a payor that embraces innovation to facilitate the discovery, development, and implementation of innovative solutions that improve healthcare for our members and communities, we were recognized as an entity uniquely positioned to drive the goals of CancerX forward.

Q: Outside of CancerX, Point32Health is also actively involved with early cancer detection programs, like the Galleri test from GRAIL. Why did we as an organization feel like this work was important?

KW: Point32Health is the first commercial health plan in the U.S. to work with GRAIL to offer its Galleri screening test in addition to recommended cancer screenings. The Galleri test is a newer approach to cancer screening called “multi-cancer early detection” or MCED. We are interested in MCED because this technology has the potential to enable earlier detection and treatment of cancers that may otherwise have gone undetected until symptoms presented. The overarching goal of our pilot program is to assess impact of MCED in real world health plan setting including the Member and Provider experience.

We know that early detection and diagnosis of cancer can save lives, and we are proud to offer cutting-edge, innovative solutions that focus on improving the health and wellness of our members and the communities we serve.

Q: The work of CancerX mirrors Point32Health’s commitment to health innovation – what are other work are we doing in the health innovation space?

KW: Within Clinical Innovation, we are constantly working to enhance our collaborations and launch new demonstration projects to attain positive health outcomes and enhance the relationship with our members. One such project is our work with Freespira. A winner of our first Innovation Challenge, Freespira, Inc. is the maker and provider of Freespira, the only medication-free, FDA-cleared digital therapeutic treatment proven to significantly reduce or eliminate symptoms of panic disorder, panic attacks, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in just 28 days.

By offering access to Freespira through a demonstration project, Point32Health is providing a medication-free alternative to treat various mental health conditions. The collaboration with Freespira will allow Point32Health to track member engagement, member satisfaction, health outcomes and impact on crucial utilization metrics, like emergency room visits.

Q: Innovation appears to be a major focus of Point32Health. Any additional clinical innovation work on the horizon to share?

KW: 2023 will mark the second year of our Innovation Challenge. The Innovation Challenge aims to identify top innovators within healthcare and partner with these innovators to implement a demonstration project for the plan. Last year we had over 40 applicants, but this year we had over 80.  Three finalists will present their innovative solutions in-person, to a panel of five judges comprised of Point32Health senior leaders, with the winner announced at our Canton headquarters on November 15.

We want to highlight this event, not merely because of the excitement it brings to the plan. We want to highlight this event because we do not embrace innovation in name only. Whether it be CancerX, the Galleri test from GRAIL, Freespira, or the Innovation Challenge, we look beyond the status quo and bring together wide-ranging collaborators and perspectives for bold ideas to solve healthcare’s greatest challenges.