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A Cancer Survivor Pays it Forward With Tech Innovation

Exploring how Artificial Intelligence and Customer Experience solutions, could be used to create enhanced experiences for connecting cancer patients with available clinical trials.

by Franco Amalfi, Oracle / April 12, 2019

As a public sector leader, my team and I constantly strive to find innovative ways of applying technology to help government organizations – with focus on delivering personalized digital services to their customers. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work on projects that made a difference in people’s lives, but one project that really stands out is a pilot that we recently completed that matches patients with available cancer clinical trials: The Opportunity Program (TOP).  

This project is particularly important to me due to my own personal life changing experience. In 2013, I battled and beat a very aggressive form of leukemia. I was very lucky, as I benefited from a treatment that had been recently developed by cancer researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and other similar institutions. Based on my struggle, I knew then that I had to find a way of giving back some day.

A few years later, in the spring of 2017, I started working with Justin Herman, who at the time, led the emerging citizen technology effort at GSA on leveraging AI to enhance citizen services. We held a workshop that summer, and more than 40 participants from federal agencies attended. There was a lot of interest and excitement, which compelled GSA to continue investing in researching its use for the greater good in the federal government. This workshop was followed by several successful hackathons and pilots, which my colleague, Dan Kuenzig led from Oracle. 

Dan’s work got noticed by GSA and subsequently he was invited to participate in the IT Modernization Centers of Excellence effort that the White House announced in February 2018, led by Chris Liddell and Jared Kushner. Dan continued working with several agencies during the pilot period to explore the use of AI for the betterment of citizen services. In the summer of 2018, Dan learned of a new AI initiative as part of the TOP, a program led by Gil Alterovitz, Presidential Innovation Fellow at the White House. The 14-week sprint sought to explore how Artificial Intelligence and Customer Experience solutions, could be used to create enhanced experiences for connecting cancer patients with available clinical trials. 

Dan’s proposal was accepted in the TOP Health Tech Sprint. The 14-week “TOP Health” Tech Sprint included 10 teams delivering digital tools — built with federal data and emerging technologies like AI — to improve clinical trials, experimental therapies, and data-driven solutions for complex challenges from cancer to Lyme and tick-borne diseases. The Oracle TOP health team combined the efforts of participants from Oracle Public Sector and Oracle Healthcare in Washington, D.C. Oracle built a patient-centric solution for clinical trial matching. The solution matches patients battling cancer with clinical trial programs leveraging modern technologies like artificial intelligence to provide a more simplified and personalized experience for determining treatment.

As a cancer survivor myself (now 5 years in remission), I embrace every day and live life to the fullest. I am grateful to the entire Oracle team, the federal agencies and leadership that supported the TOP program and the TOP Health Tech Sprint. I’m also happy to have been part this journey that has helped government agencies adopt emerging technology and look forward to the next stage now that the U.S. Government has passed an executive order to adopt AI across government.

About the Author

Franco Amalfi is the Director of Innovation for Oracle Public Sector North America. In this capacity, Franco leads a team of experts responsible for the go to market strategy for education & research, health and human services, revenue management and Smart Government. Franco and his team guide government officials at every level—higher education, federal, state, and local, and in Canada—to effectively use modern cloud based solution and emerging technologies to help government organizations deliver on their mission.

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