Unlocking Possibilities in Cancer Care at Flatiron Health’s Life Sciences Hub

The healthech company’s new Raleigh-Durham office offers room for innovation and growth in the Research Triangle.

Written by Brigid Hogan
Published on Jun. 06, 2024
Unlocking Possibilities in Cancer Care at Flatiron Health’s Life Sciences Hub
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Flatiron Health, a New York City-based company at the forefront of healthcare innovation, is poised to embark on its next chapter of growth. Central to this expansion is the establishment of the Raleigh-Durham Life Sciences Hub, a strategic move that underscores Flatiron’s commitment to revolutionizing cancer care. 

Chief Risk and Compliance Officer Nicholas Accomando was an early advocate for the Research Triangle as an ideal hub for Flatiron’s expansion. His advocacy reflected his deep-rooted belief in the region’s potential.

“When we started thinking about the company’s next decade and exploring the right market to expand our footprint, it didn’t take us long to land on the Research Triangle as the spot,” he said.

 

WHAT FLATIRON HEALTH DOES

Flatiron Health is a healthtech company expanding the possibilities for point-of-care solutions in oncology and using data for good to power smarter care for every person with cancer. Through machine learning and AI, real-world evidence and breakthroughs in clinical trials, the company continues to transform patients’ real-life experiences into knowledge, creating a more modern, connected oncology system.

 

Set amid world-class universities, research hospitals and a vibrant healthcare ecosystem, the Research Triangle offers a fertile ground for collaboration and discovery.

“There are so many things to like about this area,” Accomando added, highlighting not only the abundance of resources but also the caliber of talent drawn to the region. “All of these things can contribute so much to helping us learn from and extend the lives of every person with cancer.”

 

“All of these things can contribute so much to helping us learn from and extend the lives of every person with cancer.”

 

Accomando appreciates more than just the Research Triangle’s professional appeal. He speaks fondly of the area, having relocated to Raleigh from Boston with his family five years ago.

“I like to joke that I finally understand why there have been so many songs written about Carolina in the springtime,” he quipped.

As he considered Flatiron Health’s growing Raleigh team, Accomando emphasized the importance of curiosity and resilience. Reflecting on Flatiron’s mission to learn from every person with cancer, he underscored the importance of embracing change and challenging conventional thinking.

“Cancer continues to evolve, and if we aren’t willing to grow and challenge our thinking, we will always be one step behind,” he said. “What I want to see at this new location are people that are up for the task and willing to roll up their sleeves and do what it takes to make progress towards our vision.”

With the Life Sciences Hub poised to catalyze innovation and collaboration, Flatiron is, in turn, poised to unlock new frontiers in cancer care, one breakthrough at a time. Built In heard from Accomando about his vision and passion for advancing change in the fight against cancer.

 

What led you to join Flatiron Health?

Nicholas Accomando
Chief Risk and Compliance Officer • Flatiron Health

I have been working as a lawyer in the healthcare space for about 17 years now, and have been focused on data and technology issues for the vast majority of it. Prior to my current role at Flatiron Health, I held global roles at GSK, IQVIA and IBM Watson Health, where my work was focused on data, technology, AI and privacy in the healthcare space. 

Flatiron represents the perfect opportunity to focus on the things I love at the intersection of healthcare, data and technology — it really was a no-brainer when the opportunity presented itself a few years ago.

 

How does your team contribute to Flatiron’s mission?

I oversee the risk management team here at Flatiron, which comprises compliance, privacy and quality functions. While all the teams are focused on risk management at their core, they all play a very different and crucial role in Flatiron’s success as we navigate such a highly regulated space. 

As for contributing to the Flatiron mission to learn from and extend the lives of every person with cancer, I think we play a critical role in ensuring the quality, integrity and scalability of all the research and innovation that both Flatiron and its customers engage in. 

Did you know that the majority of the most impactful real-world cancer data sits within the unstructured data of patients’ medical records? The risk management team helps lay the framework that allows us to unlock that data in a manner that preserves patient privacy and meets regulatory requirements while ensuring it retains the critical elements needed to solve complex problems to improve and extend lives for people with cancer. 

 

“Did you know that the majority of the most impactful real-world cancer data sits within the unstructured data of patients’ medical records? The risk management team helps lay the framework that allows us to unlock that data.”

 

How significant is cross-functional collaboration in your daily work?

Cross-functional collaboration is foundational to everything the risk management team does. We are a support function that works with every single business unit within Flatiron, so we have to live and breathe collaboration daily. In addition to supporting the business units, we also work closely with other support functions like legal, tech and information security. It’s a huge reason I love my job — we get to be part of all the innovative and impactful work across Flatiron. There is never a dull moment.

 

What makes Flatiron stand out from other healthcare and tech companies?

If there is anything I’ve learned in the many years I’ve spent in the healthcare space, it is that the intersection of healthcare and technology is challenging to navigate. In the last 10 years, we have seen many big and competent tech companies stumble as they try to move into the healthcare space. On the flip side, we have seen many large life sciences companies have difficulty pivoting to a more tech-focused approach.

Flatiron has found the delicate balance needed to drive healthcare innovation while navigating the complex regulatory environment. I think our success is rooted in our holistic view of the cancer patient’s treatment journey. 

Unlike most real-world evidence companies, we have visibility into the point of care through OncoEMR. We can then track the progression through treatment into real-world results. Our mission — to drive critical research needed to improve care for patients — isn’t lip service, we have to learn from all people with cancer and use that knowledge to continuously evolve real-world evidence.

 

What’s one specific aspect of Flatiron’s culture that you’ve found particularly valuable?

I’m a doer at my core. I’m not the type of person who is satisfied sitting on the sidelines, so I’m willing to do whatever it takes to support our mission. 

Flatiron’s value — to be willing to sit on the floor — is one I really take to heart. I remember when I first started at Flatiron and wondering what is really meant by that value, but then I saw it in action time and again and it quickly became a defining piece of Flatiron for me. 

When you are facing cancer on a daily basis — something that has impacted all of us in some way — no task is too big or too small if it is driving our mission forward.

 

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Shutterstock and Flatiron Health.

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