Australia’s CancerAid app has been selected for a prestigious start-up accelerator in the US, fast-tracking its uptake into the American healthcare system.

Ten digital health start-ups were chosen for the Cedars-Sinai Accelerator powered by Techstars, including an artificial intelligence patient triage tool, an end-to-end care pathway management platform, and a virtually painless method for patients to collect their own blood.

The three-month, Los Angeles-based accelerator provides each company with access to Cedars-Sinai’s clinical expertise and information infrastructure, including hardware, software and digital health technical resources. The start-ups, chosen from a field of 650 applicants, also receive a $20,000 investment and a $100,000 convertible bridge grant in exchange for a 6 per cent equity stake, and the support of Techstars’ network of entrepreneurs and corporate partners.

The Cedars-Sinai announcement said these start-ups are seeking to address some of healthcare’s most pressing challenges.

“The innovations these companies bring to the accelerator have the potential to dramatically improve and streamline the delivery of healthcare,” Chief Information Officer at Cedars-Sinai Darren Dworkin said.

“Through this program, these companies will test and improve their ideas. By working with world-class physicians, they will advance their technologies and push their companies to the next level.”

CancerAid is ranked as the number one cancer app in the Apple store in Australia, the US and the UK, and has been downloaded more than 30,000 times in 24 countries. The brainchild of Sydney doctors Nikhil Pooviah and Raghav Murali-Ganesh, it is provided to patients free of charge.

The app organises information on appointments, treatment plans and specialists, provides unique telemedicine and personalised cancer information, and connects patients and caregivers to a community of people also contending with the disease.

Designed in conjunction with patients, over 100 cancer specialists and 20 cancer charities, and drawing on the co-founders’ experience as doctors at the Chris O'Brien Lifehouse cancer hospital, CancerAid enhances care, according to Murali-Ganesh.

“CancerAid improves the interaction between patients and clinicians. By providing patients with a platform to record their symptoms and medications, and the ability to track these over time and graphically represent trends, it allows clinicians to make better informed decisions in conjunction with the patients,” Murali-Ganesh told Healthcare IT News Australia.

“Currently this interaction is antiquated, with patients only reporting symptoms in the context of being present at the clinic appointment. However, a majority of symptoms can occur at other times and thus having the ability to record symptoms as they occur is important to managing them adequately and correctly.”

More than 123,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed in Australia each year, with disease rates growing as the population ages. CancerAid, which is available to healthcare institutions for an annual licensing fee, increases patient engagement and reduces hospital presentations.

“CancerAid provides an ROI upon this investment to the institutions that licence the application. Our premise is based upon improved patient engagement and reduced hospital presentations. This is not only applicable to cancer institutions but also to health insurance providers. We recently licensed the application to one of the largest health insurance funds in Australia,” Murali-Ganesh said.

While patients currently input much of their data, CancerAid aims to integrate with electronic medical records.

“Giving patients a control of their cancer therapy is an important step for achieving a truly patient-centred solution to the fragmented EMR issue. In our roadmap we have plans to integrate with EMRs and to reduce the fragmented nature of this system.”

Other companies selected to take part in the Cedars-Sinai Accelerator also have visionary goals. GYANT uses machine learning and AI to offer patients a triage tool that leads from symptoms to information to recommended next steps through messaging or voice-enabled technology. Lumeon's care pathway management platform allows hospitals to create their own end-to-end workflows to control all processes throughout the patient journey, from appointment generation to follow-up. Tasso’s HemoLink is an easy-to-use, virtually painless and wearable blood collection system that uses microfluidic technology for patients to collect their own blood samples.

Companies that have taken part in the previous two rounds of the accelerator program have gone on to achieve success in the US and globally, including Inscope Medical, which completed FDA registration for its high-tech disposable laryngoscope in April, and Stasis Labs, a cloud-connected vital signs monitoring system that has been deployed to 12 hospitals across India.




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