“We recognize that there are tremendous opportunities in leveraging technology to close gaps in our health care system in order to provide better care, reduce physician burnout, and control costs for people with cancer,” said Robert W. Carlson, MD, Chief Executive Officer, NCCN. “At the same time, we have to worry about unintentionally exacerbating existing problems and creating new areas of bias and inequity. We convened this summit to share diverse perspectives on both policy and practice for what can be done with technology, and more importantly, what should be done.”
“The National Cancer Institute (NCI) Cancer Imaging Program (CIP) supports innovative research for discovery, technology development, and clinical translation of new imaging methods for people with cancer,” said keynote speaker Janet Eary, MD, Associate Director, CIP. “Among many activities, CIP maintains a large imaging data archive as a public research resource, which promotes new imaging and data analyses that can be used to address issues in care delivery equity. The archive image datasets with their clinical metadata are collected from different populations so that researchers can apply innovative imaging research and data analysis approaches to these reference examples.”
Dr. Eary also reported that “imaging research continues to develop innovative approaches that can be harnessed to address the needs of individuals and different populations of people with cancer.”
Panelists examined some of the areas where technology holds the most potential for improving care, while also looking at areas of concern.
“Digital tools and technology are integrating into our daily lives,” said Edmondo Robinson, MD, MBA, Senior Vice President, Chief Digital Officer, Moffitt Cancer Center. “Health policy is increasingly recognizing these opportunities, from telehealth to artificial intelligence and beyond; this has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In oncology, there is much more we can do to truly harness the power and potential of digital tools to prevent and cure cancer.”
Beyond imaging, major topics of interest included:
- Monitoring patient experiences between visits
- Proactively managing symptoms and side-effects before hospital admittance is needed
- Providing better decision support for clinicians
- Integrating technology into the clinician workflow more seamlessly
- Improving patient engagement and access to information
- Utilizing machine learning to analyze data
- Addressing greater inclusion of underrepresented populations in the clinical dataset and improving awareness of social determinants of health
- Resolving regulatory hurdles and infrastructure disparities
The program also included several presentations highlighting a few recently-developed tools intended to improve the cancer journey for patients and caregivers.
“We created the LLS Health Manager™ mobile app because we recognized the need for a tool that allows patients to track their daily health. Managing side effects is an important part of cancer care and by tracking medication, side effects, food and hydration, patients and their doctors can begin to identify patterns and develop strategies to help them do so,” said Amanda LaRussa, Director, Patient Education & Web Content, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). “We also created a free coloring app called LLS Coloring for Kids™ designed to allow children to express their creativity while learning about blood cancer and its treatments. We felt it was important to offer kids a fun and encouraging platform to help them cope with the emotional challenges that come along with a cancer diagnosis.” Both are available to download for free in the App Store or Google Play.
Additional quotes from speakers and presenters:
Laura Chavaree, LCSW, MSW, Head of Patient Engagement, Blue Note Therapeutics said:
“The inevitable stress that accompanies a cancer diagnosis often leads to anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, cancer care teams have limited resources and time to provide psycho-social care and cancer-related distress can go under-treated or even unrecognized. Blue Note Therapeutics is committed to addressing this unmet need as we leverage clinically-validated, digital technology to provide greater access to the full suite of care for cancer-related distress available in top cancer centers. Collaborating closely with patient advisors, we are co-creating these exciting new tools and a future where clinicians are enabled through technology to extend their reach, giving patients the ability to better manage the emotional burden of cancer at home, on their own time.”
James Hamrick, MD, MPH, Vice President, Clinical Oncology, Flatiron Health said:
“Machine learning-based tools have the potential to improve patient care and safety through more efficient healthcare delivery. At Flatiron Health, we use machine learning to proactively identify patients who are at risk for an adverse clinical event and surface these insights directly in clinical workflows to help care teams better direct resources to patients that need them most. As part of this investment, we built a rigorous model monitoring an analytic solution to mitigate the very real risk of reproducing real-world disparities in machine learning algorithms.”
Kjel Johnson, PharmD, Vice President, Specialty Strategy and Client Solutions, CVS Caremark said:
“A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. What makes it even harder is that the treatment journey is fraught with breakdowns – from getting patients diagnosed in a timely manner to making sure they get on the most appropriate regimen for their specific diagnosis as quickly as possible. Using technology-enabled solutions can close these gaps and improve the overall quality of care.”
“CVS Health has invested more than $100 million in its digital infrastructure to help get patients on the right treatments faster, mitigate adverse events and prevent unnecessary admissions, to improve the overall quality and cost of care,” Johnson added.
Additional speakers and presenters included:
Kim Agricola, Director, Digital Content, Cancer Support Community
Vanessa Cramer, Director of Policy, Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance
Jonathan Darer, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer, Medicalis, Medical Director of Clinical Decision Support, Principal Key Expert for Clinical Pathways and Decision Support, Siemens Healthineers
Tim Foley, MBA, Vice President, Oncology, Optum
Tufia Haddad, MD, Chair of Practice Innovation and Platform, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Medical Director of Care at Home, Center for Digital Health
Jocelyn Ulrich, MPH, Deputy Vice President, Medical Innovation Policy, The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
The next policy summit will be the annual NCCN Patient Advocacy Summit, taking place on Tuesday, December 7, 2021. This year’s NCCN Patient Advocacy Summit will focus on Advancements in Precision Medicine and Implications for Quality, Accessible, and Equitable Cancer Care. To register, visit NCCN.org/summits and join the conversation with the hashtag #NCCNPolicy.
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About the National Comprehensive Cancer Network
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) is a not-for-profit alliance of leading cancer centers devoted to patient care, research, and education. NCCN is dedicated to improving and facilitating quality, effective, efficient, and accessible cancer care so patients can live better lives. The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) provide transparent, evidence-based, expert consensus recommendations for cancer treatment, prevention, and supportive services; they are the recognized standard for clinical direction and policy in cancer management and the most thorough and frequently-updated clinical practice guidelines available in any area of medicine. The NCCN Guidelines for Patients® provide expert cancer treatment information to inform and empower patients and caregivers, through support from the NCCN Foundation®. NCCN also advances continuing education, global initiatives, policy, and research collaboration and publication in oncology. Visit NCCN.org for more information and follow NCCN on Facebook @NCCNorg, Instagram @NCCNorg, and Twitter @NCCN.