Letter from the President

In recent years, health care in Taiwan has been marked by the precarious relationship between patients and doctors. Moreover, despite the financial hardships of the National Health Insurance, the government has continued to expand hospitals and increase bed capacity, rather than focus on enhancing healthcare effectiveness or quality. In this challenging landscape, I am thankful that our hospital has remained steadfast doing what is right – we take diligent care of our patients and have seen our survival rate continually improve. This year's annual report presents data analysis from the past 20 years (1990-2009), for our hospital and other interested parties to consider.

For a healthcare organization, collecting 20 years'  worth of data is no easy task. This endeavor requires patient trust, as well as hard work by the doctors and nurses who provide ongoing follow-up to patients, resolving the myriad post-treatment problems that arise. Our teams from the Office of Clinical Research (Biostatistics Section) and the Department of Computing and Information are also integral to the process, helping us with important data registry. We envision the parallel study of clinical medicine and genomics to be the foundation on which the future of cancer care R&D stands. Aside from epidemiology and biostatistics, our hospital also continues to collect blood and tumor tissue samples in order to carry out such research. Ultimately, we seek to change more lives through these efforts.

Based on the aforementioned forms of data, for our next chapter, we will work towards 3 major clinical goals. First, although our survival rate continues to improve, there is still a small group of patients at risk for recurrence. For this specific group, we plan to perform careful analyses, particularly searching for early detectable symptoms, and will revise our diagnostic process accordingly. We have seen some results in recent months, and before long, we will have a set of standard care guidelines specific to patients at high risk for recurrence. In addition, while already of high quality, we wish to further improve our treatment and caring, and increase our efforts to establish even closer patient-doctor relationships.

Over the past 10 years, advances in IT have spurred increased capabilities in genomic analysis and data processing. On top of that, as image transferring, data clouds, mobile phones, and tablet computers have become universal, these technologies will help usher health care into an era of "super convergence," as coined by Professor Eric Topol. Our hospital will enter a new period where clinical care, genomic research, and information systems will converge to boost the effectiveness of health care. Let me emphasize this: although IT will never replace the close patient-doctor relationship, if we become skilled at using this technology, the quality and effectiveness of health care will definitely improve.

The true implication of "innovation" encompasses all the active measures taken when one is dissatisfied with the current situation. Although our patients currently experience high survival rates (e.g. average 5-year survival rate for breast cancer is already ~90%), we still must work to eliminate the side effects of treatment, as well as the associated psychological burdens and fears. We should not become complacent, but rather, should unceasingly strive to reduce the pain that disease, diagnosis, and treatment bring patients. For the next 20 years, I hope we will continue to prioritize our efforts on the following: 1) early detection of recurrence and proper care; 2) closer relationships with patients, alleviating their pains and fears; and 3) R&D on reducing side effects and enhancing healthcare effectiveness. 

As we look to the future, let us not only work diligently to enrich ourselves, but also pursue a spirit of mutual learning and teaching, to care for and strengthen the health care of underdeveloped regions of both Taiwan and greater Asia.

 

Andrew T. Huang

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