AC health’s mission vision, and the Healthway Cancer Care Hospital at Arca South



The first time I visited AC Health’s Healthway Cancer Care Hospital at Arca South, it was a structure full of scaffolding, and the model units of the hospital rooms had just been completed. AC Health’s CEO Paolo Borromeo had invited me to join the inspection tour he was conducting for Jaime Z. Urquijo, chief sustainability and risk officer of Ayala Corporation. So, to be invited for a third time to the HCCH was a distinct pleasure, as I have fond memories of the place, and fully support the “mission vision” of the specialty hospital. 

The Cancer Care Hospital is now fully open, and just waiting for HMO accreditation. It’s 100 beds in a medical facility that’s specifically designed to provide world class cancer care, at more affordable prices. Its slogan is Care Beyond Cure; and for AC Health, the hospital being fully operational, is a realization of a dream of years in the making. It’s a step in the right direction for Universal Healthcare in the Philippines, and it comes at a time when the Philippines still leads the ASEAN countries in incidence and fatalities from breast cancer. Lung cancer and breast cancer are the two most common type of cancers in the Philippines. 

According to the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer), Filipino women face comparatively higher risks of developing breast cancer, with one out of 13 women expected to develop breast cancer in her lifetime. This is a sad fact, and the truth is we don’t even have a clue as to why this is the situation. We can hypothesize; but the research just hasn’t happened yet. So you can then appreciate just how important a role this hospital can play in saving lives. The latest in diagnostic machines, the most modern equipment for treatments – and at the heart of all this, a medical staff that’s out to make a difference. 

Noted oncologist Dr. Gary Lorenzo heads the hospital’s Medical Advisory Board, and when he spoke you could feel the passion, and past frustration, seeping through. He talked about the integrated, ‘collective care circle’ of doctors working as a team at HCCH. The environment sought is one where the patients are placed as the utmost priority; giving these patients the best diagnosis, and full information on treatments. There could be a recommended course of action decided on by the medical team, but with all options explained to the patient. It’s a circle of medical care that would have no hierarchies, no egos. It’s a new, fresh, and holistic approach that’s already being utilized in more advanced cancer care centers around the world – to catch up with the medical advances being made in cancer treatment. 

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AT THE HEALTHWAY Cancer Care Hospital, Dr. Gaudencio Vega, head, Department of Radiation Oncology, with Dr. Manuel Roxas, medical director. 

I asked if the doctors at the HCCH are exclusive to the medical center, or as is typically the case here, they also hold clinics at other hospitals. The economics of it dictate that they still hold clinics at other hospitals; but Dr. Lorenzo was quick to point out that without exception, the doctors at HCCH were appreciative of how this innovative team approach to cancer care was being made the norm at HCCH, and it was something they all welcomed as a gust of fresh air in the arena of Philippine medical institutions. 

The HCCH will promote this holistic approach, with a unified electronic medical record of the patient acting as the “Bible.” After the team presents its recommendation, if the patient still wants a second opinion, the system allows second opinions to be secured from US and Singapore hospitals that have relationships with AC Health and HCCH. And of course, the patient can still go elsewhere. 

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PRESS BRIEFING at the Healthway Cancer Care Hospital, (L-R) Dr. Gary Lorenzo, head of the Medical Advisory Board, Paolo Borromeo, AC Health president and CEO, and Jaime Ysmael, president and CEO, Healthway Medical Network. 

A navigator is on board to help the patient understand the system, and the process. This ‘navigator’ is a physician trained for handling emotional issues, mental health aspects, and palliative care. Post-Op recovery will also find this physician playing a vital role in ensuring all goes well according to the HCCH mantra of Care Beyond Cure. 

While awaiting HMO accreditation, Paolo Borromeo was open about the fact that most of the current patients were paying out-of-pocket; and it’s hoped that this situation changes very soon. The dream is to offer quality cancer care to a broad demographic – their second mantra of price low, volume high; and have more of those who normally couldn’t afford this level of treatment, be able to benefit from it. In the case of PhilHealth, Paolo was enthusiastic about developments such as packages for Breast Cancer treatment having been raised from around ₱100,000, to a more realistic ₱1.4 million. But inconsistencies still exist in the present system, and Paolo gave one example of a cancer treatment pill that other institutions are charging ₱10,000/ pill, whereas HCCH can sell it at ₱2,995/pill. 

As a general center of excellence, HCCH is just taking its “baby steps.” Partnerships with Intellicare and Maxicare, linking with NGO’s such as I Can Serve, and staying on top of trends via relationships with the likes of Siemens, AstraZeneca, and Roche, are all part of the HCCH roadmap for fast-tracking the success it aspires for.