Tata Trusts and Tata Memorial Centre (TMC) Join Hands with the National Cancer Grid (NCG) Comprising 89 Cancer Centres to Make Cancer Expertise Accessible and Affordable to Patients Across India
In a Move to Standardize Cancer Care Nationally, Tata Trusts and TMC Bring Together Experts from NCG to Grow the Online Expert Opinion Service, Launched with Navya
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., MUMBAI, India – Dec. 20, 2016 – In keeping with their strategy of harnessing technology for social good, the Tata Trusts had supported the Navya online expert opinion service at Tata Memorial Centre last year. This service aids in standardising cancer care, by providing treatment opinions from the world’s leading experts to every cancer patient, irrespective of their geographical location or ability to understand medical information.
“The Trusts and TMC plan to expand this service now to the National Cancer Grid”, said Mrinalini Pandit, who leads cancer projects at the Trusts, “Expert oncologists from NCG will join experts from TMC to provide evidence and experience-based opinions—online—using the Navya decision system.” (Patients visit: navyanetwork.com/tmcncg)
TMC is one of the world’s largest tertiary care cancer centers and convenes the National Cancer Grid, a consortium of 89 cancer hospitals. Navya is a leading clinical informatics and patient services organization in cancer decision making. Leveraging the Navya decision system and team of committed patient advocates, Tata Trusts has empowered over 5,000 cancer patients, pan-India and from over 30 developing countries in Asia and Africa, with evidence and experience-based information.
Expertise is defined as evidence and experience-based knowledge necessary to determine the individualized treatment for a cancer patient. Expert decisions can maximize outcomes: increase lifespan or number of cancer free years, improve quality of life, etc., no matter the stage and type of cancer.
There is a real scarcity of cancer experts in India, located mostly in metropolitan cities, but the number of cancer patients in need of an expert opinion is in the millions. Traveling to consult an expert at each of the many treatment decision points is costly, logistically complex, and delays the onset of treatment.
Further, application of medical evidence at the point of care is difficult as there is a rapidly increasing number of clinical trials and knowing which trials will be relevant for a given patient requires a technology system and clinical informatics. Experience is trapped in the minds and practice of experts at tertiary care centers, and unlocking that learning from medical records and past treatment decisions with machine learning is critical.
“TMC and Navya have collaborated since 2011 to develop an expert decision system that uses clinical informatics, predictive analytics and machine learning to recommend evidence and experience-based expert treatment decisions, similar to decisions made by expert tumor boards,” said Dr. Rajendra A. Badwe, Director of Tata Memorial Centre. “The system has been validated in clinical trials at TMC and the University of California Olive View Medical Centre, showing 98 percent agreement between the system’s decisions and the tumor boards’ decisions. These results have been published at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Collaboration between NCG, TMC, and Navya will be a force multiplier to extend the reach and impact of providing expert cancer care opinions throughout the country.”
“Patients at small or remote centers will now have access to the world class expertise of cancer experts in India,” said Dr. C.S. Pramesh, Coordinator of the National Cancer Grid. “Treating oncologists at non-expert centers can consult with experts online in a simulated tumor board that results in expert treatment decisions for patients everywhere. Treating oncologists or oncologists in training can learn to make expert-grade treatment decisions by using the Navya system and learning from the treatment decisions made by experts for their patients.”
Experts from TMC and NCG volunteer their expert opinion in conjunction with the Navya system to empower cancer patients and treating oncologists from northeast to urban India, from Bangladesh to Mozambique, from remote cancer centers in Bihar to large hospitals in Delhi, from Below Poverty Line (BPL) card holders to wealthy patients.
Dr. Raghunadharao Digumarti, an expert from one of the NCG centers, the Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital & Research Center in Vishakhapatnam, is committed to using the Navya system to guide patients everywhere. He said, “I am able to provide opinions on a daily basis, and within minutes on my mobile. The system displays the relevant data and options to choose from, so it is easy to provide an online opinion. It brings me great satisfaction to know that I am able to help patients with complex or advance disease, without them having to travel from Jammu or Jharkhand or Chhattisgarh, to my center in Vishakhapatnam. I hope more patients reach out to my colleagues and me at the NCG.”
To access TMC NCG Online – Navya Expert Opinion Service, patients or treating oncologists simply register at http://www.navyanetwork.com/tmcncg and upload the patient’s medical reports. A Navya patient advocate contacts them immediately. Navya’s decision system and TMC NCG experts suggest evidence and experience based treatment options. Within 1-2 days of uploading their medical reports, patients or treating oncologists receive the expert opinion report. They administer the treatment locally, enabling standardized high quality cancer care throughout the country.
“A system and a service are essential to bring expertise to every patient – together with good hearted experts from TMC and NCG,” said Gitika Srivastava, Founder of Navya. “Our innovations in decision making enable our dedicated patient advocates to empower every cancer patient. Navya is the glue that brings all elements of expertise together –with the cancer patient at the center of our system enabled service.”
Decision making is an iterative process, and patients have many questions. Even if expertise is accessible, it is difficult for a patient to comprehend and factor it in decision making. There is a need for an intermediary to communicate pertinent medical information to a patient in laymen’s terms. Handholding empowers the patient with information about their cancer treatment, but requires immense dedication, patience, and hard work.
Navya’s patient advocates bridge the gap of communication between the patient and the expert. They use the Navya system to translate a patient’s medical report and decision questions into “physician-speak”, and translate the evidence and experience-based expertise into “patient-speak” (i.e. simply reports with supporting references ).
TMC NCG Online is supported by Tata Trusts and is free for patients who are Below Poverty Line. A processing fee of Rs. 5000/- applies to other Indian patients, which is significantly lower than the costs of travel, lodging, associated with in-person consultations with experts in metropolitan cities. Most importantly, it eliminates inaccessibility to expertise in large parts of India, and uniformly brings expert care to cancer centers and patients.
About Tata Trusts tatatrusts.org
Tata Trusts are amongst India’s oldest, non-sectarian philanthropic organisations comprising of Sir Ratan Tata & Allied Trusts (estd. 1919) and Sir Dorabji Tata & Allied Trusts (estd. 1932). The Trusts work in several areas of community development. Tata Trusts seek to be catalysts in development by supporting institutions in the areas of Natural Resources Management, Rural Livelihoods, Urban Livelihoods & Poverty, Education, Civil Society and Governance, Health and Media Arts, Crafts and Culture.
About National Cancer Grid (NCG), Tata Memorial Centre (TMC) tmc.gov.in
The NCG is a consortium of 89 cancer centers, with a mandate to standardize cancer care, nationally. NCG is the largest global network of cancer centers collaborating to use technology and training to bring cancer expertise to every oncologist and cancer patient in India. TMC is Asia’s largest leading tertiary care expert cancer center. Its strength necessitates a responsibility to make its expertise available to patients across India and developing countries, especially those who reside in locations where there are no expert cancer care centers.
About Navya navyanetwork.com
Navya is a clinical informatics and patient services organization with a unique understanding of cancer patients and oncologists and a core commitment to cancer care in India. With a proven track record of successfully implementing innovative solutions that are low cost and effective, Navya is the first to develop technology systems specific to Indian cancer data for use by cancer patients and oncologists in India.