Founders’ Story: Cancer Insights

… patient engagement, and clinical efficiency, the goal is to create a unified platform for providers, pharma, and payers to deliver patient centered care.

Tarun Kumar and Dr. Sharon Hensley Alford

The co-founders of Cancer Insights are two individuals with divergent areas of expertise — one in technology and startups and the other with experience in oncology and data science. In an interview, Cancer Insights co-founders President and CEO Tarun Kumar and CIO Dr. Sharon Hensley Alford discussed their company’s goals to transform the oncology care continuum.

Why did you start this company?

The company was founded by two diverse individuals: one with expertise in technology and startups and the other with experience in oncology and data science. The vision behind Cancer Insightsis to create a renaissance in today’s siloed, disenfranchised, and inefficient oncology ecosystem. Incubating the company at the intersection of interoperability, patient engagement, and clinical efficiency, the goal is to create a unified platform for providers, pharma, and payers to deliver patient centered care.

What specific need/problem are you seeking to address in healthcare?

In the US there are 1.7 million new and 5.8 million existing cancer patients each year. Siloed medical records across hospitals, lack of transparency to patients and in-efficient oncology processes result in care gaps, sub-par patient outcomes, financial toxicity and clinician burnout. To address this unmet need, we need a comprehensive ecosystem of innovation that addresses human and data challenges across all stakeholders including patients, clinicians, pharma companies and payer. This untapped market opportunity is estimated to be $1.07 billion in US.

What does your product do? How does it work?

Cancer Insights offers a HIPAA compliant HITRUST CSF platform that enables ‘true’ interoperability by pulling and curating FHIR data from 10,000+ hospital facilities (EMRs) using an AI driven oncology data model. The patient app enables an easy to understand cancer summary, workflows to capture electronic patient reported outcomes (ePRO) and past health data, and provider prescribed tailored education. The clinical app enables patient centric workflow for staff to view oncology focused case summary, organize synchronous / asynchronous tumor board, perform in-context chat and plug revenue leaks for the encounters.

Is this your first healthcare startup? What’s your background in healthcare?

While this is our first healthcare startup, the founding team has over 30 years of experience in healthcare. Specifically, Dr. Alford has worked on both ends of the oncology spectrum. Her primary motivation of being a cancer epidemiologist was due to her sister’s breast cancer diagnosed. She brought her sister to the academic medical center where she worked so that she could simultaneously work with her sister’s clinical team and guide her sister through the treatment process. Dr. Alford supported her sister’s 14-year fight with stage IV cancer. Her sister’s experience along with her work in data analytics at an integrated academic medical center, and 5 year working in healthcare technology became the foundation and vision for starting Cancer Insights. Having seen the day-to-day struggles from both patient and clinical side of the cancer journey, Cancer Insights was formed to enable a first-of-a-kind bi-directional patient-clinician engagement platform. Moving beyond billing and compliance, the vision for Cancer Insights is to create a patient-centric ecosystem that enables providers, payers and pharma companies to collaboratively improve patient care. The Cancer Insights platform is enabled by ‘quality’ data captured and made securely available to the right entity to provide best possible outcome for the patient.

What is your company’s business model?

Cancer Insights’s business model creates an ecosystem. It is offered to providers on a subscription fee as a per-patient per-active month of usage to small-medium oncology practices. Use of the product is expected to generate additional encounter revenue for oncology practices. Using this base clientage, pharma can enable clinical trials to reach this underserved market. Payers can also leverage the platform to enable cost transparency and value-based care. Cancer Insights aims to create this ecosystem with aligned incentives.

Who is your customer? How do you generate revenue?

Cancer Insights is a B2B company focused on transforming the oncology care market for providers, pharma companies, and payers. It offers providers an oncology engagement platform with clinically validated workflows. Pharma companies can have a wider reach for clinical trial participation and lower cost efficacy evidence from clinician and patients. Also, pharma companies can get earlier feedback from new to market drugs for value-based contracts. Payers can achieve data-driven transparency to collaborate seamlessly with providers to reduce total cost of care and improve patient outcomes.

Do you have clinical validation for your product?

We have been working in the field to validate development from the beginning. Currently we have an IRB study to mature clinical workflow with an academic medical center. We are also working to validate clinical trial matching orchestration with MITRE, ACS, CodeX, TrialScope, UCSF and BreastCancerTrials.org. Previous in-market validation during core use case

development was done with two oncology hospitals and 350+ patients in Asia which we published at SABCS and ASCO. Incorporating IRB studies, active research, publications, patents (four in progress) and a grant submission (NCI SBIR) is our way to enable continual innovation and organic industry leadership. We have warm relationships with about a dozen oncology clinics with the goal for rapid customer acquisition in 2021.

Photo:metamorworks, Getty Images

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