“What now?” The prostate cancer survivor’s common refrain:
Innovation Grant helps tackle the question with proposed new care delivery model
Last month, UHN was a successful recipient of the 2018 Canadian Cancer Society Innovation Grant, together with the support of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). The grant, awarded to only 10% of the applicants, aims to support unique and creative research ideas that will impact cancer diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship.
For the team at eHealth Innovation @ UHN, the grant comes at a perfect time, when advances are being made in their platform for Prostate Cancer survivorship, Ned. The creation of Ned, where the name is also a common clinician shorthand for “no evidence of disease” tackles the question many prostate cancer survivors have of “What now?” when they are faced with a prolonged and complex post-treatment phase. For many, physical and psychological side effects of cancer treatment are common and the path to recovery can become uncertain and anxiety provoking.
Conceptualized by Dr. Andrew Feifer and Dr. Joseph Cafazzo, and brought to life by the team of researchers, designers, and software developers at eHealth Innovation, Ned provides some relief for dealing with prostate cancer survivor issues and raises the bar for the level of patient care a clinician can provide. Ned does this specifically via combining key capabilities critical to a patient’s healthcare journey, such as graphical representation of personal outcomes, tracking of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and other relevant lab results, personalized views of symptoms, self-care news feeds, and educational/support group links.
The success of the innovation grant means the team’s vision of Ned being at the center of a complete, holistic health delivery model are closer to reality than before. The funds from this grant will help transform the application into a digitally supported model of follow-up care and offer numerous capabilities which weren’t initially available with the standalone application. Specifically, e-visits will be possible which bypass face-to-face appointments and alleviate some of the challenges faced by patients who live in remote areas. There is also significant work going into ways of making data from the model’s technology interoperable with the existing Hospital’s electronic medical records.
In recent months, clinicians, Drs. Antonio Finelli and Alejandro Berlin partnered with the Ned team in the development of the proposed new care delivery model. Initially, their patients were being prescribed Ned in its standalone application form however they soon saw its potential to be at the center of an entire model of care. “This is an exciting project that responds to our patient’s most common requests: minimize commuting and waiting times, increase the control over their own health information and disease trajectory, and ensure high-quality standardized care agnostic of physical location or provider”, says Dr. Berlin. As the group of researchers shape the future of healthcare, Dr. Berlin also mentions the challenges for broader deployment “we have carefully envisioned this disruptive technology in a way that aligns physician and patient’s interests. We will also work to demonstrate the value proposition to payers and insurers to advocate for sustainability”.
“This is an exciting project that responds to our patient’s most common requests: minimize commuting and waiting times, increase the control over their own health information and disease trajectory, and ensure high-quality standardized care agnostic of physical location or provider” – Dr. Alejandro Berlin
The grant itself would not be possible without the input from a number of individuals who have been through the survivorship phase of prostate cancer and submitted letters of support for the team’s application.