Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance FAQs

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What is the purpose of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance?

The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance was created to advance Memorial Sloan Kettering’s mission: the progressive control and cure of cancer through bidirectional, ongoing collaboration with cancer providers. The MSK Cancer Alliance’s primary goals are threefold:

  • Foster the rapid adoption of advanced, evidence-based standards of care
  • Expand access to Memorial Sloan Kettering clinical trials and cutting-edge cancer research
  • Improve the quality of care and outcomes for cancer patients

In partnership with the first alliance member, Hartford HealthCare (HHC), Memorial Sloan Kettering will extend its expertise and knowledge base to more patients, families, and communities — many more than the organization could reach by working alone. Through the alliance, Memorial Sloan Kettering will collaboratively guide HHC toward strengthening its clinical and research programs; learning, adapting to, and adopting Memorial Sloan Kettering standards of care; and improving outcomes in the communities served by HHC oncologists.

The vast majority of cancer care in the United States is delivered by oncologists in the community or teaching hospitals outside the reach of the nation’s network of comprehensive cancer centers like Memorial Sloan Kettering. As a result, the newest treatments and the most recent standards of care can take years to become available in the community setting.

With more than 1.6 million new cancer diagnoses each year, and an estimated 2.3 million diagnoses expected annually by 2030, Memorial Sloan Kettering recognizes the need to find allies in addressing the needs of the growing population of cancer patients and their families. For patients who wish to remain close to home, choosing an alliance member for treatment can provide peace of mind and comfort in the knowledge that their local care teams are highly qualified and are supported by Memorial Sloan Kettering.

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Who is Hartford HealthCare, and why was it selected as the first alliance member?

Hartford HealthCare, a five-hospital health care system in Connecticut, was selected as a pioneering member of the newly formed MSK Cancer Alliance. HHC shares Memorial Sloan Kettering’s commitment to excellent patient care, and has an established reputation in the community it serves. HHC’s cancer program is one of the highest-quality providers in the region, and is responsible for the care of approximately 18 percent (5,000 new cases annually) of all cancer patients in Connecticut. Hartford Hospital, HHC’s largest hospital, is one of only 30 hospitals nationwide designated as an NCI Community Cancer Center.

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How does Hartford HealthCare, and its patients, benefit as a member of the alliance?

Memorial Sloan Kettering will collaboratively guide HHC toward strengthening its patient care and clinical research programs through a variety of approaches. These include:

  • Working together to ensure that the resources, capabilities, and standards of care are consistent with the most recent highest standards;
  • Coordinating on-site observations of new techniques;
  • Sharing educational resources;
  • Conducting quality and outcomes research;
  • Integrating HHC doctors into Memorial Sloan Kettering disease management teams; and
  • Enabling active participation of HHC clinicians in the Memorial Sloan Kettering research process.

HHC patients will also have unprecedented access to Memorial Sloan Kettering clinical trials, which will be conducted on-site at Hartford Hospital and will be delivered by HHC doctors. Clinical trials allow patients to receive the newest, most cutting-edge therapies, and to participate in advancing the care of future generations of cancer patients. Clinical trial enrollment and design are evolving — and clinical trials are not just for patients with advanced disease. Expanding Memorial Sloan Kettering’s clinical trials to a wider patient base not only improves access for patients receiving treatment, but also speeds the data collection process so investigational therapies can become approved faster and become available to more patients.

HHC’s commitment to becoming an alliance member involves ongoing, dynamic collaboration — and the impact of this collaboration will be measured by its ability to improve quality, outcomes, and patient satisfaction.

A joint Memorial Sloan Kettering–HHC Steering Committee is overseeing the implementation and ongoing work to accomplish the goals of the relationship between the two organizations. This work includes a certification process to assess HHC’s cancer resources, capabilities, and standards for clinical care and for clinical trials research. Pending mitigation of any significant gaps, Memorial Sloan Kettering will deem the HHC cancer program “endorsable” and ready for full implementation, or “launch,” which is expected to happen in the spring of 2014. At this point, HHC will begin public co-branding of the Hartford Cancer Institute with the MSK Cancer Alliance.

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How does Memorial Sloan Kettering benefit from starting the alliance?

First and foremost, the MSK Cancer Alliance furthers Memorial Sloan Kettering’s mission — to prevent, control, and ultimately cure cancer by improving the quality of cancer care outside its walls, expanding its research capabilities, and fostering the adoption of new and evolving standards of care into the community.

Because our clinical trials and other research efforts will be expanded due to a much larger patient population, we will be able to share more robust information about outcomes including survival, quality of life, and cost of care among all alliance members.

There are also tremendous opportunities for bidirectional learning. The alliance will enable Memorial Sloan Kettering to learn how to improve outcomes in geographically distant communities, how to translate its standards of care appropriately to the community setting, and how to offer expanded access to its clinical trials.

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Are there plans to expand the alliance network? With whom? What criteria does a potential alliance center need to meet?

Memorial Sloan Kettering will eventually be pursuing additional healthcare providers beyond the New York metropolitan area in order to expand the alliance network and to reach more communities. However, our immediate focus is on ensuring the alliance with HHC begins successfully.

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If a healthcare provider is interested in learning more about the MSK Cancer Alliance, whom should they contact?

Healthcare providers interested in learning more should contact Victor Ribaudo, Vice President of Affiliations, at

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