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L.A. billionaire teams with Blue Shield to improve patient care

L.A. billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong partners with Blue Shield of California to speed up medical breakthroughs to doctors.

October 03, 2012|Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles billionaire and healthcare entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong has partnered with insurer Blue Shield of California to accelerate medical breakthroughs to doctors in an effort to improve patient care and reduce costs.

Soon-Shiong, a former UCLA surgeon and drug company executive, announced the agreement between his company NantHealth and Blue Shield, a nonprofit insurer with 3.3 million customers in California.

They will partner with St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica to create a "continuous learning center" to work on spreading personalized medicine and best practices to more healthcare providers. Blue Shield said it will invest more than $3 million in the learning center at St. John's and is looking to expand this project across California.

"This learning system puts us on the path of driving value-based care and ultimately reducing costs for all Californians," Soon-Shiong said in a statement Tuesday.

Soon-Shiong, the wealthiest person in Los Angeles and a part owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, has been in the news for another potential deal. He has expressed interest in bidding for sports and entertainment giant AEG and taking over its efforts to bring a professional football team to Los Angeles.

Soon-Shiong's net worth is estimated by Forbes magazine at $7.3 billion, much of which came from selling two drug companies.

Soon-Shiong has long complained about the lag time between advancements in medical research and practical application with patients. He has been working on numerous ventures to speed up information sharing electronically and put more data at the fingertips of doctors in the field.

"We believe the combination of technologies Patrick has pulled together holds the possibility of truly transforming healthcare," Blue Shield President Paul Markovich said in an interview. "There is a lot of what I describe as informed trial and error when it comes to treatment now."

For instance, Markovich said, considerable time and money are spent on ineffective cancer treatments. NantHealth can help identify more accurately the proper diagnosis and most effective treatment options by tapping into medical databases, algorithms and the patient's own genetic information in some cases, Markovich said.

Soon-Shiong and Markovich are scheduled to speak about this initiative in Washington on Wednesday, alongside medical experts, business officials and former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.).

chad.terhune@latimes.com

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