The STEP Program™: Supporting Solutions from Patient Advocacy Organizations
Patient advocacy organizations are a key source of information, empowerment and support for patients at every step of their health care experience, helping them and their families navigate the care they need.
Novartis developed the STEP (Solutions to Empower Patients) Program™ to fund innovative projects from US-based nonprofit organizations that help address some of the most pressing gaps between best practices and the care a patient actually receives. By supporting the patient advocacy organizations that are best positioned to tackle unmet patient needs, our goal is to reduce the burden of disease and help create a path to better care.
Proposal Submission and Review Process
Each new STEP Program focuses on a specific disease or aspect of health care, and a call for submissions is issued requesting advocacy organizations to develop a program or resource addressing that area of significant unmet need. Once the submission period closes, an external review committee evaluates the proposals against common criteria and identifies those with the greatest potential to make a positive impact on patients and caregivers.
Each review committee consists of a diverse group of subject matter experts, including health care providers and patients and/or caregivers, to provide broad perspectives on the submitted proposals. Once the final proposals are identified, recipients are notified and recognized by Novartis.
For more information on the current call for submissions, including eligibility and requirements, please view the program submission FAQ. To apply, please click here.
Current Focus Area: Advancing Biomarker Testing in the Cancer Community
The STEP Program is currently calling for proposals from US-based patient advocacy organizations for programs that aim to increase awareness and improve understanding of biomarker testing within the cancer community.
With the acceleration of personalized medicine, we hope that treatments will one day be tailored to each person’s cancer. In oncology, personalized medicine is often guided by results of biomarker testing that can identify specific changes in cancerous cells. This testing is also referred to as genomic testing, molecular profiling or tumor profiling, among other names.1 Though biomarker testing has become one of the cornerstones of personalized medicine, especially within oncology, there remain significant challenges when it comes to education, access and reimbursement.2,3,4
To help improve testing rates, the STEP Program will recognize and fund up to four proposals that demonstrate innovation in the following areas:
For more information on the STEP Program, including eligibility and requirements, please view the program submission FAQ or read our press release. To apply, please click here. Of note, you can “save and continue” completing the form as needed until the submission deadline.
Prior STEP Program Funding Recipients
Since its creation, the STEP Program has funded a variety of programs and resources that are helping to address educational gaps for patients, their caregivers and the health care community.
Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) Recipients Represent Broad Impact of the Disease
SCD is a genetic blood disorder that produces abnormal red blood cells which cause ongoing damage to blood vessels and organs.5 It is a lifelong illness that places physical and emotional burdens on patients and their families as they manage issues with work, school and family.
Through the STEP Program, five organizations received a total of nearly $250,000 for their proposals to improve the lives of people living with the disease.
Providing adolescents with tools to successfully transition from pediatric to adult care.
Proposals were evaluated by an external review committee comprised of experts in the fields of advocacy, psychosocial support and multicultural health, as well as an SCD practitioner and patient.
For more information on our SCD STEP Program, please read our STEP Program press releases.
Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) Recipients Making a Difference
Approximately 155,000 Americans are living with MBC, a form of cancer that has spread from the breast to other parts of the body such as the brain, bones or liver. 6,7 At this stage, the disease is incurable and life expectancy drops dramatically.8 An MBC diagnosis can be overwhelming, and people living with the disease face many unique challenges.
Through the STEP Program, three advocacy organizations were provided a total of $225,000 to support the MBC community.
A resource that helps patients and their caregivers interpret media coverage of MBC research, understand the relevance of this research for their clinical care, and discuss the information with their health care providers.
Levit LA, et al. Implementing precision medicine in community-based oncology programs: three models. Journal of Oncology Practice. 2019;15(6):325-329.
Ciardiello F, Adams R, Tabernero J, et al. Awareness, understanding, and adoption of precision medicine to deliver personalized treatment for patients with cancer: a multinational survey comparison of physicians and patients. Oncologist. 2016;21:292–300.
Roseff SD. Sickle cell disease: a review. Immunohematology: Journal of Blood Group Serology and Education. 2009(25):2:67-74.
Mariotto A, et al. Estimation of the number of women living with metastatic breast cancer in the United States. Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Biomarkers. 2017;26(6):809-815.