Today, February 4th, we observe World Cancer Day, a day to promote knowledge, support and empathy for those around the world who are going through their own cancer journey or those of their loved ones. This year’s theme #CloseTheCareGap struck a particular chord with us at Solve.Care. #CloseTheCareGap is all about accessibility to proper cancer care and treatment, and this resonates deeply with our vision of providing access to quality healthcare worldwide through digital healthcare technology innovations and blockchain. So, lets discuss the difficult topic of cancer and how telehealth and digital health can help #CloseTheCareGap.
Cancer has been a topic of discussion for years and years, professionally and conversationally, but the fact that there is no guaranteed cure to this day shows what a monumental task tackling the disease is, a task that we should never stop discussing while it remains an issue. The World Health Organization (WHO) has found that cancer is the second leading cause of death in the world and that 1 in 6 deaths globally can be attributed to cancer. Furthermore, 70% of cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Approximately a third of those fighting cancer rely on long-distance caregivers who can assist them but can still struggle to arrange transportation, schedule care, or find medication and medical equipment. This is where telehealth and digital health solutions come in handy to #CloseTheCareGap.
Telehealth provides the advantage of improving communication and accessibility to care. Whether a patient is in bed at home, in a hospital, or anywhere you can think of, physicians can check in with their patients or vice-versa. In a time of restrictions and lockdowns in countries around the world, patients can stay in touch with loved ones and received continued care in a safe environment. Remote patient monitoring is an important part of telehealth and can enhance cancer treatment. Many patients suffering from cancer may prefer to get their regular treatments at home. With telehealth services and remote monitoring patients who are receiving chemotherapy or chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T- cell infusions can get nightly check-ins remotely from their caregivers. Rather than being confined to the hospital during the term of their treatment, they can do so from the comforts of their own home with their loved ones, particularly if they live far from the hospital.
There are more ways telehealth can assist cancer patients during the different parts of their healthcare journey. It’s often the case that people with sudden symptoms go straight to the emergency room because they don’t have the time to make appointments, or they are unsure of where to go for those specific symptoms. The use of triage screening via telemedicine before a patient even goes to the hospital allows for patients to have a quick consultation that allows them to skip the emergency room and go straight to the cancer center. This very method is currently being used by the Jefferson Health Center in Philadelphia to prevent overcrowding and to provide more effective and timely care to cancer patients.
Telehealth does not only improve communication between patients and physicians, but between healthcare professionals themselves. Quick information sharing of analysis and reports is vital in treating cancer, which has a varying speed of spreading. The success rate of treating cancer is more likely to be improved by catching the disease or changes in the patient’s condition early. The increased interoperability between pathologists and oncologists allows for treatment options to be planned more efficiently. Add on to this the capabilities brought about by the advancement of blockchain data ledger technology, and the immutability it provides to better analyze and share research, the connectivity we are experiencing today can only help us take another positive step in tackling cancer and working to #CloseTheCareGap.