A visionary faces headwinds
Name: Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong
Title: Founder and CEO of NantWorks
The charismatic Patrick Soon-Shiong is spinning a seemingly interminable web of startups to address some of the most fundamental problems in healthcare. While billions have been invested, some skepticism has emerged of late that Soon-Shiong can live up to his enormous ambitions.
Soon-Shiong has an almost mythical status within the industry--he's reportedly both the wealthiest doctor ever and the richest man in Los Angeles, CA, with an estimated fortune of $12.4 billion, according to Forbes. The basis of his fortune is the 2008 and 2010 respective sales of American Pharmaceutical Partners and Abraxis BioScience for a combined $9.1 billion. Soon-Shiong had been the founder, chairman and CEO of the two companies from 1997 to 2010. In 2011, he founded NantWorks, an ever-growing assemblage of startups aimed at transforming global health information and next-generation pharma development.
The crown jewel of NantWorks, NantHealth, aims to revolutionize almost every aspect of digital healthcare and the data it generates, including the use of genomic data in diagnosis and treatment; the connectivity and tracking of the patient at home and in the hospital; and the creation of true value-based healthcare with the integration of cost and outcomes data into medical practice.
Soon-Shiong presented on behalf of NantHealth at the 2015 JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, where it was one of the few private companies presenting. He said that 45% to 65% of cancer patients in the U.S. are getting the wrong treatment because physicians aren't incorporating the latest research developments into their approach to care.
By Dec. 31, about 4,000 U.S. oncology practices, or roughly 70%, were already using NantHealth tools to improve patient treatment to result in improved outcomes and lower costs, he said, adding that for practices that have integrated NantHealth's care coordination tool, inappropriate care is being greatly reduced or eliminated. He also said that insurers are already reimbursing physicians to use NantHealth. The company's site lists an even more optimistic rate of 80% of U.S. oncology practices using the company's tools.
Soon-Shiong waxed rhapsodic about NantHealth at JP Morgan. "We are a decision support engine that is able to give learning in real time," he said. "A patient walks in and walks out of the hospital knowing cost and outcomes. This was an audacious idea and we have $1.5 billion of actual spend. We have integrated patient records across brands, the financial system, laboratory data, genomic data, smart wearable devices and, the most exciting, are pushing it onto mobile platforms."
Since then, some skepticism has been unleashed about NantHealth--and Soon-Shiong's ability to advance his broader mission. A pair of former NantHealth employees filed a whistleblower lawsuit that was widely covered by the media in January after Forbes broke the story. It alleges that NantHealth is "engaged in a multitude of fraudulent activities" and broke laws related to health privacy and billing. The employees are Stephanie Davidson, who was the SVP of professional services at NantHealth, and William Lynch, the senior director of marketing.
A 2015 IPO was reportedly planned for NantHealth but may no longer be quite so urgently in the works with the recent controversy.
-- Stacy Lawrence (email | Twitter)
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