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About Cecilia Zapata-Harms
Zapata-Harms has held leadership positions in strategy, joint venture startup and program administration. Her career spans more than 25+ years in life science/biotechnology and healthcare industry. Zapata-Harms started her tenure as a strategic planning manager under the direction of Dr. Robert Day, then President of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research in the early 1990s. She then became the Program Administrator for the Molecular Pharmacology, Clinical Research Division under the leadership of Dr. Lee Hartwell and Dr. Stephen Friend. The Seattle Project, as it was known in 1994, landed Cecilia as Project Officer for the National Cancer Institute as part of the contract agreement with the Seattle Project. Cecilia was part of the original team that founded Rosetta Inpharmatics which eventually became a Merck division. In 1998, the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) officially became a 501c 3 organization and Cecilia’s skills as a project manager and strategic planner were recruited to assist with the relocation of clinical staff and programs to its new facility. Zapata-Harms held the position of Director of Strategic Development for the SCCA for two years and eventually became the Director of Affiliate Network and Strategic Outreach, holding that role for 13 years. In the summer of 2017, Zapata-Harms left SCCA to return to her life science and biotechnology roots as Chief Visionary Officer for Elev8Bio; a company that provides small to mid-cap life science/biotech startups the infrastructure to support overall growth from scientific advisory to investment raise. Zapata-Harms is an advisory board member of Onco'Zine and The Onco'Zine Brief.

A Key-Hole View on Healthcare Disparity

Published on 09th May

The topic of healthcare disparity has been discussed in many forums and many articles have been written to bring about awareness, debate the issue, find fault in the system, and make assumptions on what the right solution is.  I am, by no means, an expert on this topic but I believe that healthcare economic burdens are paramount everywhere.

Patients experience substantial financial hardship, not only during the treatment process but also after treatment.  This means that you and I, all of us, regardless of our economic status, will experience some form of financial burden while getting treated for a health issue.  We all know and agree that everyone is entitled to receive the best care available, yet economic disparity between individuals determine the accessibility of what the “best care available” is.  Access to healthcare, at the minimum level of basic standard care, is a struggle for communities globally.

By Cecilia Zapata-Harms | Managing Partner, Elev8Bio, LLC

The stress that comes with how to afford a treatment of a diagnosed disease should be the last thing on a patients’ mind, but it is always the first thing.  We already know that stress affects overall recovery and wellness, yet, how can a patient, who have access to better care, recover and get well faster when they are faced with thousands of dollars in medical expenses?

Hospital systems are also experiencing financial stress especially those in rural communities. They struggle to economically support patients who have very little or no health insurance coverage. Additionally,  understanding what is within the “coverage plan” and what is not, can make our heads spin like a washing machine cycle.  Nevertheless, fortunate are those who have insurance.  What about those who don’t?

“We are faced almost daily with referrals to our program for patients who have no insurance or are grossly under-insured. Often these patients are late stage, and every day it takes us to identify and secure benefits is one more day they can’t afford to lose. We struggle to balance the financial toxicity they face with these delays in care and are relying more and more on charity care applications to get the process started.” ~ Cancer Center Director

Innovation in new therapies are a tremendous benefit for all of us, yet they are more expensive than the already approved standard of care. However, new therapies are shorter in duration thus providing more time for recovery and can potentially promise to cure.  The overall question is, how can we ensure that an equitable access to these new treatments or diagnostics are available to patients globally without the burden of expense?

We can’t fault new innovators.  New startup companies are trying to solve the precision of diagnoses and treatments, but they struggle to keep up with the fast-paced expedited delivery due to high competitiveness in the field.

Although there are plenty of resources, It’s still a race.

Last Editorial Review: May 9, 2018

Featured Image: Portraits Courtesy: © 2010 – 2018 Fotolia. Used with permission.

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