Moving cancer treatments out of specialized centers and into local clinics or home care settings could significantly lower healthcare costs. Often patients have to travel long distances to receive treatments at cancer centers. In low resource settings in the developing world, there may not be any options for cancer treatment. Surgical treatments carry infection risks, and in many places there are not enough surgeons to treat all of the patients in need. Technologies like targeted ultrasound and light-based treatments could allow providers with less specialized training to treat more patients for less money. Tools for monitoring chemotherapy patients at home between treatments could eliminate travel and office visits. Mobile health strategies for collecting data about high-risk populations could lead to new interventions to directly impact cancer screening rates.
The Center for Future Technologies in Cancer Care is focused on translational technologies that meet a need in contemporary cancer care both in the United States and internationally. The Point-of Care (POC) can be a home, primary care office, clinic, or other location, provided that the technology enables a task to shift from a more to a less sophisticated setting. Cost reduction is one metric on which technologies are judged, but an increase in positive patient outcomes and/or quality of life should be paramount. For example, an intervention that allows for chemotherapy drugs to be given at home, rather than in a special treatment center could both reduce costs and increase patent quality of life.
To address these issues, the Center is focusing on the identification, prototyping and early clinical assessment of innovative point-of-care technologies for the treatment, screening, diagnosis and monitoring of cancers. A major aspect of this effort involves assessing early stage technologies in terms of clinical needs, market demands, setting appropriateness and commercialization strategies.
To begin a dialogue about the best use of resources in a variety of settings, we pose the following questions for an Expert Panel discussion from May 5 - 9:
1. What is the most difficult part of treating cancer patients in your area? Which Point of Care Diagnostics and mobile health applications would address the major challenges surrounding effective screening, staging and diagnosis?
2. How are existing tools delivered to the patients who need them? How do these tools change treatment courses?
3. What kinds of tools do you envision that could change how you practice?
4. How do we deliver this data to the people who need it most? The practitioners? The patients?
We’re grateful to have the following panelists to lead our discussion:
* Franklin W. Huang, M.D., Ph.D., Co-founder, Global Oncology, Inc., and Clinical Fellow in Hematology and Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital
* Catherine Klapperich, Ph.D., Director, The Center for Future Technologies in Cancer Care, and Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering, Boston University
* Leslie Lehmann, M.D., Director, Clinical Pediatric Stem Cell Transplantation Center, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School
* Bernhard Weigl, Ph.D., Director, Center for Point of Care Diagnostics for Global Health at PATH
We look forward to a rich discussion next week—please join the conversation and share your questions or comments for our panelists.