In order to continuously improve treatments and management, our comprehensive cancer centres are driven by a culture of research and innovation, in all fields. They use the most ground-breaking technological equipment, test new potential for connected health and invest in research.
A cutting-edge network
Unicancer and the Centres in its network are pursuing the goal to anticipate and deploy the main innovations – whether they are medical, organisational or R&D-focussed – within the network.
One of the cornerstones of the Unicancer strategic project, our purchasing and access to innovation policy aims to enable access to state-of-the-art equipment and innovative treatments in all the Centres of our network. Within Unicancer, we also organise regular exchanges of experience between hospitals, in particular the “Pitch’Unicancer” (see below), and surveys on the practices of each centre. Also very important, we list, release and roll out-connected solutions and pathways in the Centres.
Aware that big data represents a fundamental challenge for innovation in cancer diagnosis and therapy, and as a pioneer in that area, in 2012 Unicancer launched the big data in oncology programme Consore , and a real-life data department, with the ESMÉ programme.
In 2020, an Oncology Health Data Department was created, as well as an artificial intelligence (AI) research group to study the relevance of and implement partnerships with start-ups and thus strengthen the development of e-health and AI. Teams in our Centres use AI in diagnosis, radiotherapy preparation and treatments (beam optimisation, preservation of healthy tissue etc.).
The Unicancer network has developed many innovative initiatives related to care pathways and patients’ quality of life. Pioneers in a quality continuous improvement approach, our Centres share their expertise within the network in order to always be at the forefront of innovation.
In terms of research, the Unicancer network is a leader at the national level – with Fcccs obtaining on average more than half of the national hospital-based clinical research programmes in cancer (PHRC) – and has a worldwide reputation. Therapeutic innovations necessarily rely on research, one of the cornerstones of Unicancer’s and the Fcccs’ action, and particularly clinical trials. In terms of inclusion, the objective for the Centres is to move from a rate of 15% to a rate of 20% of their patients included in clinical trials by 2022.
2021 data, unless otherwise stipulated.
Fertile ground for innovations
Thanks to its local coverage of the national territory, our network is also a fertile ground for innovations, that should be generalized to the entire oncology sector in France (for example, through multidisciplinary team meetings) with the permanent desire to increase the quality and accessibility to care.
Unicancer wishes to offer patients an early access to innovative therapies, even before they become routine in most healthcare centres. Patients can benefit from them as soon as their treatment is taken care of by the French health insurance fund, and in certain cases, as part of a compassionate use programme (“Autorisation Temporaire d’Utilisation” – ATU), which means pending their marketing authorisation. Daily, we work to facilitate access to these therapies through clinical and translational research (especially in fields forgotten by the pharmaceutical industry), by optimising therapeutic strategies and doing our utmost to further our knowledge of cancer and patients’ responses to treatments.
Within the Unicancer network, patients have access to particularly innovative treatments – such as robotic surgery, adaptive radiation therapy, precision interventional radiology and oncology – and cutting-edge equipment (e.g. robots for preparing chemotherapy, radiotherapy MRI hybrid accelerators, genomics, spectral imaging and theranostic platforms(1)). We also develop initiatives in the field of molecular and predictive medicine, based on gene sequencing to detect typical anomalies in solid tumours or haematological malignancies.
“Innovative by nature, the Centres in our network have always been forerunners in the fight against cancer, by identifying developments in oncology to improve patient care, while guaranteeing rapid access to innovations in the fields of healthcare and research”Prof. Jean-Yves Blay, Unicancer President
Purchasing and access to innovation policy
Unicancer Innovation Award
The only award exclusively dedicated to cancer in France, the Unicancer Innovation Award (Prix Unicancer de l’Innovation) has aimed since its creation in 2014 to encourage and supports the excellent and innovative work carried out by the Fcccs in many fields.
The strength of the candidate projects is to be reproducible in other centres. The Award thus makes it possible to inspire other health centres and to encourage the dissemination of innovative initiatives. Projects are also selected for their innovative character and the benefits for patients and the organisation of the centre.
Prix Unicancer de l’Innovation (in French)
Pitch’Unicancer: 30 minutes to share innovation
Since the beginning of 2019, the Pitch’Unicancer webinars have been facilitating access to healthcare digital and organisational innovations within our network. Taking place every two weeks, in a format which encourages discussion (15’ presentation and 15’ discussion), the Pitch is aimed at organisational and digital health innovations, to encourage sharing and exchanges between institutions in these two fields.
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Care pathway and quality of life
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(1)Neologism which derives from the contraction of the terms “therapeutic” and “diagnostic”; which is the use of a diagnostic test, identifying a marker, to direct the patient’s treatment according to their
status for that marker (positive or negative status for a binary marker)