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A Digital Health Application in Oncology: An Opportunity to Seize

Altron HealthTech and Dischem Partnership Gerard-Augustine
A collaboration between Altron HealthTech and Dischem Oncology in improving clinical efficiencies, cost reduction, improved safety, and standardisation in the oncology practice domain through a leading digital health technology.

Digital health advances have transformed many clinical disciplines; however, digital health innovation is relatively nascent in cancer care, which represents the fastest growing area of healthcare spending.

Various opportunities for digital health innovation in oncology include patient-facing technologies that improve patient experiences, safety, and patient-clinician interactions; clinician-facing technologies that improve their ability to diagnose pathology and quality of care; and technology infrastructure to improve clinical workflows and documentation.

Oncologists spend most of their time in diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients and face many operational challenges in cancer care delivery daily. Resource intensive cancer care delivery demands leaders to take charge of their operations. An operation focused delivery with the aim to reduce costs, increase safety, improving clinical outcomes will allow an organisation to compete effectively in an aggressive marketplace.

According to the American Institute of Cancer Research, cancer costs the world approximately US$895 billion a year. This means that while advancements in cancer treatments are increasing, so are costs.

And, according to Cancer Research UK, the cost of cancer drugs is increasing by 10% per year. Alongside drugs, the cost of diagnosis, radiation, chemotherapy, imaging, pathology, surgery, and end-of-life care are also increasing exponentially. The Independent Clinical Oncology Network in South Africa estimates that, depending on the type of cancer, treatment locally can cost anything between R10 000 and R1 million per patient, per year.

“An operation focused delivery with the aim to reduce costs, increase safety, improving clinical outcomes will allow an organisation to compete effectively in an aggressive marketplace.”

Everyone has a role to play in helping to keep medical costs under control. From individuals to medical schemes to the regulator and governments, we can all ensure pharmaceutical research and development is fair and transparent, while striving to drive increased use and access to generic drugs and biosimilars (drugs that are developed to have the same active properties as the original) that can lower costs and give individuals greater access to treatment. This also creates more opportunities for funding of newer therapies.

Owing to the vast potential for digital health technologies to improve quality and reduce spending in cancer care it is incumbent upon all players in the value chain to envision new ways to deliver oncology care and to facilitate broader, patient-centric integration of digital health in cancer care.

A collaboration between Altron HealthTech and Dischem Oncology aims to provide clinicians the opportunity of standardising EHR data to enable interoperability, increased patient access to and control of health data, and establishing payment reforms to offset the costs of digital health infrastructure.

Enhancing the inclusion of certain structured data elements in the EHR as it relates to standardised clinical workflows and approved treatment protocols could greatly improve the ability to display critical data to clinicians and care coordinators at the time of care.

In oncology practice, many data elements needed to understand the patient journey are documented in unstructured documents, such as clinician notes and diagnostics reports. Gathering and optimally displaying critical data could not only facilitate more efficient care but also supports safer care and more robust decision support tools, if implemented in a way that does not add to the administrative burden for the clinician and their workflows.

Despite current successes in digital health deployment in oncology, there remains several potential barriers to broad deployment of digital health tools. Attention to implementation factors that seamlessly integrate or simplify clinician workflows, access to approved treatment protocols, ease of pharmacy dispensing and operations, and reduced cost of technology infrastructure are critical to enable broad-based adoption.

Further, a barrier to good care coordination, along with other aspects of oncology care, is a lack of interoperability and standardisation of EHRs, as well as tools to aid clinicians in documentation with structured data.

The Altron HealthTech and Dischem Oncology collaboration removes the technology implementation cost barrier, allows access to approved treatment protocols and clinical workflows that tracks and manages the cycle of treatment activities, includes pathology integrations, authorisation flows with early warning on expiring treatment plans and authorisation numbers, user specific workflows by clinician, nurse, authorisation team and pharmacists, and ensures resilient billing functionality based on the treatment plan with seamless claims processing capability to funders. In a nutshell, the technology solution will support the clinician, patient, nurse, pharmacist, and funder in improving the quality of care, cost and operational efficiencies, improved safety and optimisation of the financial metrics across the domain.

By Gerard Augustine, Executive Sales, and Business Development, Altron HealthTech

Keen to know more? Contact Altron HealthTech to book a demo TODAY or drop us an email at healthtech.sales@altron.com

Dumisani Luthango of our marketing department chats to Gerard Augustine about what is happening at Altron HealthTech.

About The Author

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Altron HealthTech, a division of Altron (Pty) Ltd, was founded when MedeMass, MediSwitch, and MedeServe consolidated their offerings to the market in 2016. Collectively, the company has provided innovative solutions to the healthcare industry for over 30 years.

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