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Digital cancer care

Building a patient-centered digital information sharing platform

Redefining the total care experience in the digital age

There are not many cancer centers like Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) when it comes to quality of clinical care. Some may even say that this New York City institution sets the standards in many categories in health care not just in America but worldwide. MSK operates primarily as an out-patient treatment and care center with over 81% of their patients coming in every week to undergo various diagnostics and treatments to various facilities spread out across Manhattan. The challenge was to work with the MSK Strategic Planning and Innovation team, the various organisational stakeholders, patients, and selected members of the clinical care and administrative teams to design a digital information sharing platform that matches the quality of their clinical care and patient experience.

MSK's existing portal simply did not meet the needs and expectations of both patients and MSK staff. It was static and did not offer any degree of customization. It was not integrated with the other IT systems therefore was not a useful tool in delivering care across the organisation. And it offered negligible value to the patients since neither clinical or administrative staff had enough confidence in it to use it universally with their patients. As a result, there was a reluctance to promote it organisation wide and adoption and engagement with it was falling. The challenge was to ultimately replace this ineffective tool with a solution that would support the MSK patient care delivery model and provide the foundation of the MSK Digital Care strategy.

What is the optimal model of communication and information delivery for patients across the MSK cancer treatment journey?

MSK's care delivery is organised into small and extremely specialised clinical teams with the doctors at the center. They are highly specialised because MSK is a place where patients come when their diseases are so rare or complicated that no one else has answers. Clinical teams consist of nurses and chemotherapy session assistants that help deliver the clinical treatments. Their work is supported by physician's office assistants and clinical on-boarding staff who help manage the administrative affairs of the practice. These practices are essentially all bespoke, uniquely ran businesses with staff that know exactly how to work with the doctors they work with, how those doctors like to do things and how that matches the needs of the patients whom they are trying to help.

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What makes MSK successful providing a total care experience is their ability to deliver cancer specific, unique and individualized clinical care to every patient.

Both patients and staff told us repeatedly that what makes MSK unique and special is that absolutely everyone contributes to the quality of the care at the center. This is because the staff is bought into a total care delivery model and they understand that the success of chronic care management lies in building strong relationships between everyone in the patient's immediate care ecosystem. MSK staff also understand that no one's cancer is like anyone else's and treat each patient individually continually evaluating and adjusting each patient's care model for maximum effectiveness.

We believed that for a solution to deliver the type of care MSK is renowned for, it must deliver better integration and support of institutional processes. It must facilitate relationships between the patients, caregivers and MSK staff. And it must offer both the patients and the clinical teams a degree of customization to help treat patients at an individual level.

Ally is a platform composed of applications that allow patients, clinical teams and administrative staff to share information anywhere and on any device. It is modular in that it allows doctors and staff to customise the application to suit the needs of each individual patient. It also enable clinical teams the ability to develop new specialized applications.

Ally's applications or tiles are organised in 3 distinct categories. Core Tiles are MSK institutional applications such as Secure Messaging, Rx Refills and Lab Results. They are intended to be deployed on every patient's Ally and help deliver the critical information that is needed by all MSK patients.

Clinic Tiles are curated by the patient's clinical team and tailored to each patient's individual clinical needs. The Ally of patients participating in clinical trials may contain Symptom Tracking while international patients may require TeleHealth to support remote communications.

Finally, patients and doctors can choose from the Lifestyle Tiles that help patients incorporate chronic cancer management into their everyday life. Whether it is connecting with other patients who went through similar ordeals via Patient Connect or trying out Holistic Medicine remedies for side effects of chemo, patients can improve their physical, emotional and cognitive wellbeing through better lifestyle choices.