Molecular diagnostics firm detects colon cancer earlier with a patient-friendly screening option

Exact Sciences uses Citrix Workspace Suite to expand its efforts to detect a preventable cancer earlier

Colon cancer is considered the most preventable yet least prevented cancer. Many people avoid colonoscopies, the historically available method of detecting the disease. To increase screening rates, Exact Sciences Corporation, headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin, created Cologuard, a noninvasive, DNA-based test people can use at home.

Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Cologuard identifies colon cancer at its earliest, most-treatable stages. To keep up with increasing demand for the test, Exact Sciences is expanding—which means it needed an affordable way to extend the company’s IT infrastructure.

Exact Sciences worked with IT services provider Envision IT to create a secure, flexible, and scalable technology platform that delivers a consistent user experience across the company’s locations. After assessing Exact Sciences’ use cases and strategic business objectives, Envision IT quickly determined that Citrix was the leading platform that would meet all the business and IT requirements. “These partners will help us scale our systems as we grow,” says Kevin Conroy, CEO and chairman of Exact Sciences.

Envision IT deployed Citrix Workspace Suite, together with NetScaler, as an integrated business productivity solution and secure gateway. “Citrix is the only solution that will seamlessly work on all of the cloud platforms out there,” says Beau Smithback, founder and CEO of Envision IT. “Now we can spin up a lab anywhere in the world without onsite IT resources.”

Protected patient data

When processing Cologuard tests, it’s critical for Exact Sciences employees to protect confidential patient information. “The security that wraps around our technology is mission-critical,” says Conroy. “It allows us to become a trusted partner of physicians and patients around the world.”

Technicians use the secure solution to scan the label on the kit and make sure it matches the patient’s data and the doctor’s orders. “Envision IT understands the security needs of personal health information,” says Doug Turecek, senior director of IT for Exact Sciences. “And Citrix supports that whether we use a private cloud, public cloud, or hybrid solution.”

Enhanced customer service and business mobility

Many of the company’s customers are elderly patients who may have questions or need other help to use the test kit. To ensure that these patients receive the information and support they need when they call, Exact Sciences devotes significant resources to customer service training. Training requirements evolve quickly as the company matures.

“It’s not uncommon for IT to receive a request on Thursday afternoon to update a training program before a new class begins on Monday morning,” says Turecek. “Without the Citrix solutions, we wouldn’t be able to meet those timelines.”

In the past, IT administrators had to manually install new training applications on each workstation in the training center. “Using the Citrix technology, we can create an image once and deploy it to all of those workstations in a matter of minutes,” he says.

The virtual desktops enabled by Citrix also allow employees to work remotely. “Here in Wisconsin, we have snow days when not everyone can get to work,” says Turecek. “But we still have to answer patient calls and provider questions. Citrix allows our agents to work remotely, using their virtual desktops. They don’t have to be in the building to do their jobs.”

Faster business growth supported by scalable technology

Since Exact Sciences came to Madison in 2009, it has grown from just three employees to more than 800 and operates a state-of-the-art, CLIA-certified lab. Using a combination of cloud and on-premises resources, Citrix helps the company grow efficiently beyond geographic limitations while maintaining secure application access.

“Citrix has been a great decision for us,” says Turecek. “We don’t always know what the business will require from IT, but Citrix allows us to adapt to changing market demands. Being able to deploy the technology with our small IT staff wouldn’t be possible without the Citrix tools. And our overseas partners know how to use Citrix solutions, so we don’t have to train them.”

The market for cancer screening is large and growing. “Nearly half of people in the United States who should be screened for colon cancer have not done so because they don’t like the historically available test,” says Turecek. “We’re presenting them with an option. And we’ve built a solid technology foundation that we can grow on.”

Conroy adds, “Envision IT and Citrix helped us extend our sophisticated IT infrastructure globally. With this technology and our Cologuard product, we soon believe we’ll be able to detect cancer earlier, even from a simple blood drop. We think that will have a real impact on the way cancer is diagnosed and treated in the years to come.”

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Envision IT and Citrix helped us extend our sophisticated IT infrastructure globally. With this technology and our Cologuard product, we can detect cancer earlier.
Kevin Conroy
CEO and chairman
Exact Sciences Corp.

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