Category Archives: cancer survivor

What Happens When A Pharmageek And A Cancergeek Meet In Spain?

Last week I had the fortune of attending the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO) in Barcelona, Spain. It was a wonderful meeting.

I was able to meet some of my new colleagues from Europe.

I was introduced and met a few customers that are doing incredible work in South America, Spain, the Netherlands, and in the U.K.

I read a majority of the scientific posters and was happy to see synergies carrying over from the imaging world into the field of radiation oncology.

There were a few big topics such as the use of novel tracers to identify cancer and then use for target delineation. Iterative reconstruction was a big buzz around the showroom floor as it applies daily imaging. MR and even spectral imaging were all being highlighted in how they can help in defining cancer as well as targeting it with radiation oncology.

My biggest excitement was when I discovered that one of the guests during ESTRO was going to be Lionel Reichardt, aka Pharmageek.

I have been following Lionel for multiple years. I have exchanged emails, Tweets, have read several of his articles and watched multiple videos of Lionel. (more articles)

The question most people have is,

“What happens when a pharmageek and a cancergeek are in the same room?”

Magic, of course. 

I was fortunate enough to have dinner with Lionel.

First and foremost, as with many IRL (in real life) meetings, it was as if we had just seen each other and were catching up with an old friend. Lionel is very observant, does his due diligence, and has an amazing perspective on technology, health, care, and the patient perspective.

I was energized to learn of an initiative that Lionel has been doing for a while now called, “As A Patient I Demand….” This initiative was taken from the candidacy of Francois Hollande and applied to getting the patients perspective in healthcare. Specifically, Lionel’s initiative translates to the following:

“The health seems forgotten by the speeches of the potential presidential candidates of 2017…with #MoiPatient (taking up Francois Hollande’s anaphor in 2012 “Moi President”), we give the floor to the patient that we are all at a certain moment in our lives.” (videos here)

What I enjoyed the most about my conversation with Lionel is that he cuts through the bullshit (as most of my French friends do). We took a walk around the showroom floor at ESTRO and we discussed some of the same “buzzwords” we also witnessed during RSNA 2017 (and several other medical conferences).

Words such as artificial intelligence, deep learning, machine learning, clinical decision support, big data, analytics, and insights.

Companies from pharma, radiology, oncology, and other sectors of healthcare like to use these top of mind buzzwords, but we both agreed, that the majority of the technology and its applicability is still vapor, unfulfilled promises, and a prophecy of what is yet to come.

The reality is that health/care has undergone similar technological transformations multiple times, and unlike the rest of the world outside of healthcare, technology has only created a larger divide inside of medicine.

Lionel also pushed me on my own hypothesis, that health and care will be delivered at the N of 1.

He asked me how long I think it will take to reach this promised land?

I shared with Lionel that I believe we can reach that destination by 2025.

The hurdle is not the technology, it is people.

It is a fundamental culture shift.

While the insurance groups in the U.S. want population health, the hospitals want to develop pathways (rules) for patient management, and Governments want to provide access to quality care, it will ultimately be the patient who gets to determine what will work for them as individuals.

If we take a look and realize that there are no longer gatekeepers to medical knowledge, that brand hospital means less to a patient than the brand of a physician and when patients seek care, they want to trust the person.

Technology can enable, but trust is earned one patient and one physician at a time.

At the end of the weekend, we both agreed: patients want #GFHC and they want it delivered at the N of 1. (click the link and take the pledge if you agree)

As always feel free to email me at cancergeek@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter and Instagram as CancerGeek

~Cancergeek

Advertisements

We To Me Care

me-to-we-care-2

On September 27th I had the privilege of being asked to participate in a panel discussion at the 2016 Wisconsin BioHealth Forward Summit presented by BioForward Wisconsin in Madison, WI.

The panel discussion topic that I participated in was entitled: Cancer Moonshot To Clinical Trials: Breakthrough Approaches In The Fight Against Cancer.

I had the privilege of being joined onstage by Dr. Umberto Tachinardi, Chief Information Officer for UW Health Carbone Cancer Center and Chorom Pak, the President and Founder of Lynx Bio. (Click here for program information here:)

One of the topics that came out of our panel discussion was the use of “Big Data” to help to drive “Precision Medicine” and improved targeted outcomes for patients diagnosed with cancer. One of the phrases I introduced during the sessions was…..

The transition of healthcare from a world of following the 80-20 rule to a new world of “We To Me” (#We2Me) care.

It happened to be a term that resonated with my colleagues on the panel.

My simple premise is that historically healthcare has been about using information, research, and data to generate “rules,” templates, protocols, clinical workflows, and guidelines that deliver quality and consistent care to the general population.

Our medical and scientific mind has been to collect all of the information on a stated hypothesis in order to make a conclusion on the efficacy, re-producibility, safety, and overall impact to the population in question.

As I borrow from Lord of the Rings, our industrial mindset has been one pill or one treatment to cure them all.

From a maturity perspective this is a good thing. We want to impact as many lives as we possibly can and make sure it is safe and we can administer to many.

The days of not being able to collect information, or taking a long time to collect the needed information as well as analyzing the information in order to understand the medications, the prescriptions, the imaging, or the right combination of treatment that will have the best outcomes for patients is becoming ever faster.

Today we live in a time in which healthcare is “good” at following processes, guidelines, and rules to generate satisfactory results for the general public. Perhaps the 80% of people that walk through the front door of our clinics and hospitals. (generalization)

Yet there is still the 20% (again, another generalization) that our medical guidelines simply do not work, or are not as effective, or come with significant side effects.

As an example, there used to be a day in which all patients diagnosed with NSCLC (non-small cell lung cancer) did not have a good prognosis. Mean life expectancy was around 6 months. Our ability to treat and offer long term survival was limited.

Today we know that NSCLC has many variants with genetic mutations such as AKT1, EGFR, ALK, BRAF, HER2, KRAS, and many other variants. We know that based the above mutations that clinicians can offer different therapies that are targeted at these specific mutations to deliver better outcomes and longer survival for patients.

That is the promise of what technology may enable for all of us.

Technology offers the promise to collect and analyze more information about me, which will then allow physicians and clinicians to offer us (you and me) more personalized medicine specific to us at that very moment in time.

It is widely known that the zip code in which one lives determines the majority of health, access, and the medical care she/he receives.

What tomorrow offers you/me is a world in which the 5% of what healthcare collects about us is combined with the other 95% of what occurs as we live in our communities.

A world in which advances are made based on the individual and benefits the broad population.

We begin to deliver care that is based on you. Care that is specific to me. Care that is delivered at the N of 1.

We move from a world of “we care” to “me care”.

This is the promise that all of us seek.

That healthcare understands me. That medicine cares for me. That my treatment and my options are specific to my needs. They are based on my own expectations and are tailored to where I live as well as my genome and how I live my life.

We are in the midst of a transition from #We2Me care.

Health and care is delivered at the N of 1.

As always you can feel free to email me at cancergeek@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter @cancergeek

~Cancergeek

I would also like to thank Lisa Johnson of BioForward (@BioForward) for allowing me the privilege of being able to participate on the panel and to help her wonderful organization.