One thing is clear: There are a plethora of stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem. And in trying to bring everyone together, we often neglect to tie in the most important part of the equation: the patient.
In a panel at MedCity CONVERGE, a group of panelists touched on the significance of patient engagement, particularly in oncology care. Perhaps unsurprisingly, all three panelists have personal ties to cancer. Kuveda COO Chuck Gershman’s father was diagnosed with cancer, Wellist CEO Ashley Reid’s mother had breast cancer and LiveLung founder Dusty Donaldson is a lung cancer survivor.
Due in part to their experiences, they each formed their own organizations.
Gershman co-founded Kuveda, a company that utilizes analytics and genomics to create cancer treatment options unique to each patient. Reid founded Wellist, which works to ensure healthcare organizations are giving patients access to their nonclinical needs. And Donaldson’s LiveLung seeks to spread awareness of and support patients with lung cancer.
While the startups go about it differently, they all share the same goal: to empower the patient.
Kuveda wants to do so through personalized medicine. This year, approximately 14 million people are going to be diagnosed with cancer globally, Gershman said. But only 200,000 to 300,000 of them are going to get access to precision medicine. The company wants to bridge that gap.
Wellist looks at patient engagement a little differently. It provides its clients (such UPMC Hillman Cancer Center) with analytics solutions and the tools to connect patients with supportive communities. “We exist to be a one stop shop so patients and nurses can get connected to organizations like Dusty’s,” Reid said.
LiveLung exists to advocate for patients and to end the stigma surrounding lung cancer. By working with cancer centers and nurse navigators, its primary mission is to serve the lung cancer population.
And for each of the companies, technology is one of the key drivers of ensuring patients are engaged with their diagnosis and treatment options.
Gershman, whose organization is in the process of building a patient portal, neatly summarized the mindset of patients today: “It’s no longer ‘the doctor is God.'” Instead, they’re looking online to find information.
Donaldson agreed. “Patients are Googling. Caregivers are Googling,” she noted. “The Internet is definitely a huge player.” Websites not only serve as a tool for patients to find information, but also for survivors to share their stories and connect.
Whether through tech or other means, empowerment comes down to recognizing that each individual has different needs.
“Patient engagement is really getting to the heart of the patient who’s going through whatever they’re going through,” Donaldson concluded.
Wellist PBC, Inc.