Written by Paul Landau, Careology Founder & CEO, The Loop Magazine.
Right now cancer services across health and care are struggling to deal with backlogs, workforce shortages and escalating costs which are impacting cancer survival rates and the quality of care being delivered.
Over 10,000 people with suspected cancer are currently waiting more than 104 days to see a clinician. This extended waiting period has been consistently reported to cause feelings of anxiety among patients.
Change is desperately needed but many are feeling 'initiative fatigue' in the NHS. However, with the Interim Major Conditions Strategy published just last month, there's new hope for how we deal with long-term conditions such as cancer.
The strategy aims to improve cancer care by focusing on embedding early diagnosis and treatment in the community, optimising patient pathways and enhancing the overall patient experience through person-centred care and seamless interactions with the healthcare system. The strategy rightly recognises the transformative potential of technology to achieve some of this. And rightly so but we need a blended approach of physical and digital that works for patients.
The strategy also emphasises the need for taking a person-centred approach. This is something we're passionate about Careology. We use technology to facilitate easy access to reliable information, providing cancer patients with clarity about the next steps in their care and acting as a companion during their treatment.
Our aim is to use patient-facing technology to help people have the best possible experience during their treatment and to make the treatment journey as smooth and hassle-free as possible. With greater control over their healthcare journey, patients and their carers can make informed decisions about their treatment choices.
The major conditions strategy rightly recognises that sustained investment is needed in the cancer workforce, and in diagnostic and treatment capacity. But we also need to look at how we could potentially reduce the number of appointments needed for various workflows. Through digitalising and streamlining elements of it we can free up capacity and increase speed to treatment.
By reimagining our approach to delivering cancer services, we have the potential to alleviate the burden on our oncology workforce. This can lead to more efficient and effective healthcare outcomes for patients and contribute to the overall improvement of cancer care.
A key example of this is a typical consent process in cancer treatment which requires up to three appointments before consent is obtained. This is expensive, capacity consuming and delays the speed of treatment.
If we can digitise this process we can make it faster through the provision of key regimen-specific information packs, FAQs, language options and potentially also digital consent itself. This will not only increase clinical capacity but free up consultant time for other clinical duties, as well as reduce the average cost per patient and allow faster commencement of treatment.
As we look to the future of healthcare delivery, its effectiveness and quality will progressively depend on adopting a holistic approach that considers the entire person. Ultimately. we need to create a shift towards digital solutions which enable a greater sense of ownership and engagement for people. Now is the time to push through and embrace technology if we truly want to revolutionise the patient experience.
Read the full version in The Loop Magazine p.38 - 39.
Careology is building the world’s leading digital cancer care platform. By equipping and seamlessly connecting patients, caregivers and healthcare teams in a complex pathway, our mission is to use technology to transform traditional cancer care and change everyone’s cancer story for the better. Today the platform allows patients to manage and navigate all aspects of treatment from their device, while leveraging critical data on symptoms, medications, side effects and more, to deliver insight and analysis to clinical teams through a ‘virtual ward’. By increasing the potential for patients to self-serve, improving workflows, making 24/7 monitoring possible and putting a unique data set to work, we are helping to relieve pressure on health systems, while reducing costs, improving patient and clinician experience, and optimising health outcomes.