The Elephant in the Emergency Room

It is estimated that 40% of the cost of delivering cancer care is spent on unnecessary hospitalizations.

Think about that.

40 billion dollars and growing.

Why is that?

Cancer is a business…big business. Hospitals are facing pressure from all sides…the easy days of “just add more services and bill for it” are over in a post ACA world. Hospitals are turning to Cancer as a revenue stream…building new Cancer Centers, adding Proton Therapy machines (250M a pop) and new “clinical trial research teams” all to attract more cancer patients. But as these hospitals add more cost to their bottomline, they are faced with billing for those services… of the elephants in the room inside of healthcare is that patients are told “if you have any problems go to the ER”…..I find myself noticing that in most hospitals the ER and Cancer Center entrances are right next to each other (Hershey Medical Center comes to mind). Clearly this is for a reason.

 Self Reported ER Symptoms for Cancer Patients (Advisory Group 2014)

Self Reported ER Symptoms for Cancer Patients (Advisory Group 2014)

We believe things are changing but we are still in the first inning for the Payers to begin to address this issue. Oncologists threw away their pagers long ago…and I don’t see this changing anytime soon especially as the demand for their time is only increasing. Instead we strongly feel the burden of symptom management will put in the hands of patients and caregivers.

Payers also know that they must provide better tools to their members (patients and families) who are facing cancer. Google consistently provides conflicting information and is a poor substitute for a physician’s counsel. Family and cancer patients often feel unjustified in seeking their oncologist’s input, so they suffer rather than “bother such a busy and important doctor.” Rarely are doctors and nurses able to respond to patients needs while outside the hospital. The ER is now the “catch all” patient management resource. achieves both goals of collecting better data for providers to manage patients while also providing a care coordination platform for families to communicate and help facilitate better decision-making. Especially, since families tend to be scattered hither and yon, across time zones and sometimes internationally.

Until now, CaringBridge has been the de facto standard that oncologists and nurses “recommend” for family support and communicating about and to the patient. Although providing some value at a high level for “major announcements”, the platform falls short in today’s mobile world. Cancerlife (CL) was designed to take the concept of social networking into the health care space which is now referred to as “Social Health”. After 3 years of development, an estimated 9,432 hours of time collectively invested by the CL team, and tested with over 1000 users, Cancerlife’s usability and interoperability greatly dwarf the groundbreaking work of Caringbridge (CB), as a cancer support tool. From a functionality perspective, Cancerlife dramatically improves care management and Patient Reported Outcomes (PRO) data collection inside one patient facing solution.

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Cancerlife collects information as it happens and develops a more comprehensive picture of treatment burden, patient adherence and Patient Reported outcomes over time….. this allows caregivers, family and clinical staff to intervene before these symptoms become a hospital stay.

Cancerlife captures PRO data and coordinates a patient’s family or “village” to preempt adverse events. The unnecessary hospital ER admissions problem is a major portion of the cost of delivering care but most importantly the most addressable. As the healthcare system moves to a value-based model, this problem will become even more of a high priority for Payers. Currently there are few scalable solutions on the market that bring together patient data collection, social networking and care coordination inside a mobile app for cancer families…until now.