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Engaging cancer patients using existing technology

by Gus Iversen, Editor in Chief | March 03, 2023
Business Affairs Health IT
Adam Sodowick
With cancer rates on the rise, providers are looking for new strategies and techniques to address the problem. The solution may lie in patient engagement: If doctors know more about their patients, they can develop better treatment plans, and address social barriers that may hinder care delivery.

But, how can providers engage patients to learn more about their everyday lives? Further, how can learning more about patients fuel new care initiatives, such as outreach for the early detection of cancer?

Healthcare Business News interviews Adam Sodowick, chief innovation officer & cofounder at Patient Discovery to discuss strategies to engage cancer patients using existing technology.

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HCB News: What type of information do oncologists currently collect from patients? And what type of information are they not collecting that could impact care delivery and outcomes?
Adam Sodowick: Oncologists collect a deep and complex amount of clinical data that continues to grow as advancements in cancer research progress apace. Growing in importance however is the demand to also capture information on the non-medical data influencing clinical outcomes. Specifically, data related to social determinants of health (SDOH) and related social needs. 93 percent of surveyed oncologists agree that SDOH have a significant impact on patient outcomes, but 81 percent also acknowledge they and their staff have limited time to address these needs. Beyond the cost of inequities in the industry, which are significant, it is estimated that 34 percent of cancer deaths among U.S. adults ages 25 to 74 could be prevented if socioeconomic disparities were eliminated. There’s overwhelming alignment in healthcare that this needs to be addressed.

HCB News: What role does data play in all of this? What strategies can doctors deploy to improve the data they get from and about their patients?
AS: It is essential that care teams capture and address information on the practical day-to-day challenges influencing treatment adherence and outcomes. Health-related social needs such as transportation to and from appointments, food security, access to support for elder or childcare – all affect clinical outcomes. The challenge for providers is that they have a limited amount of time to collect this information and current processes are still largely dependent on a person, whether it be an advocate, nurse, or another member of the care team, taking responsibility for manually recording this data and following up with patients over time to determine if needs have been resolved. Adding further complexity, there is also a lack of approved standards for capturing and normalizing this data, which creates additional burden for providers and systems seeking to measure the efficacy and impact of interventions.

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