17 December 2021 | Friday | Opinion
Dr. Richard Bambury, Chief Medical Officer of ONCOassist
What could be the impact of new COVID-19 variants on global oncology services?
This pandemic has disrupted the spectrum of oncology care and poses considerable challenges for the management and access of patients. It also includes the delay in diagnosis, treatment, and clinical trial halts. Cancer diagnosis and management are time-sensitive, it's likely to be substantially affected by these disruptions.
Improving patient care is becoming a priority for all health care providers especially when it comes to cancer care where diagnosis and management are time-sensitive. However, newly approved therapies, Electronic patient-reported outcomes offer extra weapons in the fight against cancer, as we step into a new year, there is a lot to look forward to.
What are the future trends of global cancer care in 2022?
Advances in science and technology platforms are likely to progress faster in oncology than in other disease areas. Cloud computing will help in increasing the efficiency of the healthcare industry and at the same time decreasing the cost. Through EMR’s it will help easier management of patients, by making the medical records sharing safer and easier. While ePROs will help patients answer questions, share reports through trials while being in the comfort of their own home through smartphones. These combined with other trends like Healthcare apps and artificial intelligence are going to give cancer care a new look and at the same time make the HCPs job easier.
What are the major challenges currently facing blood cancer and its treatment globally?
Similar to the care of patients with solid tumors, management of patients with blood cancer has been severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Access to diagnostic services which are more heavily used in blood cancers, particularly genomics, is more challenging due to the staffing and equipment resources being redeployed for SARS-CoV-2 testing. Later and delayed diagnoses will lead to upstaging of blood cancers with a consequent reduction in survival rates in the longer term. Aside from the problems related to COVID-19, there are major geographic disparities in access to blood cancer diagnostics and care and this is being accelerated by the increasing cost of evermore tailored/targeted therapies which are out of reach for healthcare systems in large parts of the globe.
How is ONCOassist helping in addressing those challenges?
Over the last 12 months, we have added numerous new features targeted at those working in hematology. This includes an Advanced Myelofibrosis risk scoring tool and prognostics score for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes.
In addition, we have added a new landing page for hematology healthcare professionals which brings the tools and content relevant to them to the front and center.
We engaging with our users who work in this space and will be adding more tools and content to meet their needs in 2022.
What are the company's plans for the next 5 years?
We are thinking about new ways for the HCPs to engage with their patients that will be integrated with existing healthcare IT systems. This indeed will help us resolve a few impacts mentioned above and will result in an easier workflow for oncology HCPs globally. Hopefully, next year we will be able to provide you with more information on this.
How do you foresee the international cancer market?
Unfortunately, incidences of cancer globally seem to be increasing due to aging populations and better awareness and diagnosis, but new targeted therapies are coming on stream to help tackle cancers. These therapies have proven to be very effective, but it is not always easy for HCPs to identify patients who are relevant. Molecular testing needs to be increased and results made actionable. The collection of Real World Evidence will become increasingly important in clinical trials. We need to find ways to speed up trials and bring new innovative therapies to market.
The challenge going forward will be to harness the increasing volume of patient-level data to increase the precision of the therapeutics administered and improve the predictive value of these treatments. The optimal sequencing and combinations of therapeutics will remain an active area of research to try to bring some order into a very crowded landscape of treatments.
A caveat with all this is that reimbursement hurdles will likely become higher as healthcare systems look for compelling evidence of effectiveness and this may constrain growth in the global oncology market.