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Advancing Cell and Gene Therapy (CGT) Access: Insights from CAR-TCR 2023

By AmerisourceBergen

The recent CAR-TCR conference, a gathering of experts in the field of Cell and Gene Therapy (CGT) held in Boston from August 29, 2023 to September 1, 2023, provided a platform for in-depth discussions on the challenges and opportunities facing this innovative sector of healthcare. Dale Hanna, Director, Cell and Gene Therapy, at Cencora, shares valuable insights on the conference's key takeaways, particularly regarding the digital transformation of CGT. 

Advancing Cell and Gene Therapy

Patient access challenges in CGT

One of the striking revelations from the conference was the significant challenges faced by patients in accessing CAR-T therapy. Hanna shares that, from a manufacturer’s point of view, patients often wait an average of 160 days before receiving this life-saving treatment1, with a substantial portion of this wait time attributed to insurance and clinical referral delays2. The consequence of such delays is the gradual reduction in the potential effectiveness of the therapy.   
Access issues in CGT extend beyond payer and reimbursement concerns. Socioeconomic gaps for patients, onboarding qualified treatment centers, and ensuring consistent patient and caregiver experiences through effective coordination were all highlighted as areas that require improvement. These challenges underscored the need for greater awareness of available therapies and processes among community physicians, enhanced visibility and connectivity starting at the point of prescribe through time of administration, and collective efforts to make CGT more accessible to eligible patients. 

The role of digital transformation in CGT

During the panel discussion "Demonstrating the Value of Digital Transformation" where Hanna joined experts from Adaptimmune, Sana Biotechnology and Tevogen Bio, the panelists shed light on the industry's overarching goals in embracing digital transformation. It was clear from participants on the panel and the questions from the audience that there is a growing demand for data access and open connectivity to orchestrate processes across the patient journey. While various companies are pursuing digital solutions, the lack of standardization can introduce even more complexities into a complex experience and create greater burden on providers, patients, and manufacturers. As an industry, we will need to continue to push the envelope with standards and open connectivity sources so that critical systems and services are able to connect among digital solutions creating meaningful ecosystem transformation and orchestration. 

According to Hanna, the digital transformation of CGT promises several significant impacts. 

“Real-time visibility through technologies like Internet of Things (IoT) and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags enables the identification of bottlenecks and potential issues, leading to faster responses and more efficient operations. Analytics-driven benefits include improved inventory management, demand forecasting, and process optimization, which can ultimately reduce costs. Additionally, embracing digital transformation makes companies more accessible and connected within the CGT ecosystem.”
-Dale Hanna  

There is no greater reminder than to keep in mind the difference of digitizing a function and executing digital transformation, where digitizing a function serves as improving a single function and digital transformation seeks to enhance an entire process end to end. 

Implementing a digital strategy in CGT should primarily revolve around improving the end-user experience for stakeholders throughout the entirety of the patient journey – point of prescribe through the required long-term patient follow up activities. Any organizations willing to take on digital transformation initiatives will need to keep their decision-making process aligned with their organization's goals, allowing for iterative development and scalability as value is created along the defined ―and changing― patient journey.  

Collaborative strategies in the industry

The industry's current lack of standardization poses a challenge, but collaborative strategies can help bridge these gaps. Efforts within organizations such as the FDA, American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT), and Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) aim to standardize requirements, ensuring a smoother integration of digital solutions. Collaboration is essential, since building digital platforms internally without external partnerships could lead to inefficiencies and frustration in patient care delivery, as shared by leading healthcare centers of excellence. Collaborative approaches, such as the partnership between Cencora and TrakCel’s industry leading orchestration platform, can help seamlessly integrate patient access, treatment ordering, logistics, and chain of identify (COI) / chain of custody (COC) management into a unified experience. 
Therapeutic developers in CGT share a global vision of digitizing and improving the accessibility and user-friendliness of their processes. While every company may have unique transformational goals, health systems are eager to be involved in the roll out of operational process roll out and in the solution design as treatments transition from clinical to commercial stages of availability.  
“We have learned a great deal from simply connecting with department and front-line staff at various sites of care with varying levels of patient treatment volumes. It’s clear they desire an emphasis on creating a more consistent user experience through adoption of a seamless, integrated ecosystem. This approach distinguishes between merely digitizing an experience and digitally transforming it into an orchestrated service, ultimately enhancing the patient journey” concludes Dale. 

Focusing on CGT integration for enhanced patient care

At Cencora, we have concentrated our efforts on establishing connections among the new digital solutions within the CGT ecosystem, aiming to attain the same results while ensuring a more uniform and consistent management of the processes. 
Earlier this year, we inaugurated a cutting-edge CGT integration hub focused on speeding up the exchange of real-time data with the goal of aiding development and ultimately getting next-generation treatments to patients. 
Powered by our customer relationship management system, this platform-agnostic hub aims to enhance connectivity throughout the CGT treatment process, benefiting both patients and healthcare providers. It can integrate with various biopharma or provider-facing platforms, facilitating real-time data exchange. The CGT hub streamlines the path-to-care process by providing visibility into therapy development and delivery, enabling quicker coverage determination for patients. We aim to improve coordination and simplify the care process, supporting CGT developers and supply chain partners along the way. 
While the CAR-TCR conference brought to light the pressing need for addressing patient access challenges in CGT, it also emphasized the pivotal role of digital transformation in improving the industry's overall efficiency and accessibility. Collaboration, standardization, and a commitment to enhancing the user experience were recurring themes, highlighting the collective efforts required to propel CGT into a new era of innovation and patient-centered care.  
Cencora is ready to support this collective effort with our readily available solutions for ordering, patient scheduling, tracking product status, and facilitating patient support services. Connect with our teams to learn how our integrated platform will increase your therapy’s connectivity and speed to market. 



1Journal of Clinical Oncology. An American Society of Clinical Oncology Journal. Ethical challenges with CAR T slot allocation with idecabtagene vicleucel manufacturing access. Kourelis T, Bansal R, Patel KK, et al. June 2, 2022  

2American Society for Transplantation and Cellular Therapy. Overcoming Barriers to Referral for Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cell Therapy in Patients with Relapsed/Refractory Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma. Marc S. Hoffmann, Bradley D. Hunter, Patrick W. Cobb, Juan C. Varela, Javier Munoz, April 7, 2023.  


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