Online Pancreatic Cancer Community Keeps Patients In The Loop

In recent years, healthcare and social media have combined. This merging of industries has had a number of positive effects, but one of the best effects is that there are more and more patient-centered online communities. These groups help patients who are struggling with various diseases, common and rare, to connect with one another across the globe. Furthermore, they also make the patients and their family caregivers feel less confused and alone.

One of the many online communities like this is called Let’s Win. But Let’s Win isn’t just like any other patient-centered community. The group focuses on providing “science-driven” treatments for patients with pancreatic cancer. These treatments go beyond the standard level of care.

The community includes research scientists and oncologists. These professionals share information on drug development, clinical trials, and medical breakthroughs in order to give patients a more thorough understanding of what is available. It is quite possible that a group like this could lead pharma and biotech companies to make clinical trial recruitment better.

Let’s Win has a Scientific Advisory Board that ensures that the information shared in the community is scientifically based and that it offers a possible option outside of the existing standard of care treatments. The board vets crowdsourced pancreatic cancer treatments.

Anne Glauber, one of Let’s Win’s cofounders, was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and was told that she had one year to live. She visited specialist oncologist and took an unconventional approach to her treatment. She founded Let’s Win because she wants other cancer patients to have these kinds of options.

Glauber started the online community alongside Dr. Allyson Ocean, one of the specialist oncologists who treated her. These two joined Willa Shalit, Kerri Kaplan and Cindy Prace Gavin to create Let’s Win.

On its website, Let’s Win provides links and summaries of new development, clinical trials, clinical research, and the use of FDA-approved drugs in different dosages. The website is written in a user-friendly way that can be understood if by someone without a medical degree. Glauber wants to keep patients in the know about compassionate use policies. She feels that most patients don’t get all of the information and they aren’t aware of all of the options available to them.

A large number of the pancreatic cancer patients are based in small towns. They are often treated by oncology generalists who do not have the specialty knowledge that clinicians possess. Allyson Ocean hopes that Let’s Win can empower patients, scientists and doctors in order to help them make more informed choices regarding treatment.

Alysson Ocean and an anonymous corporate donor have provided funding for the company. Let’s Win is affiliated with the Lustgarten Foundation, and welcomes donations from individuals through this affiliation.

From immunotherapy to precision medicine, great strides are being made in the field of cancer research. But for people who have recently received a cancer diagnosis, Let’s Win hopes to share information that can help cancer patients make more informed decisions with their doctors about treatment options.

Johnson & Johnson to Partner with HP in 3D Printing

Within the 3D printing industry, major developments that have been occurring over the last few years include advancements in bio-printing and customized medical implants. At first these developments had limited effects in the industry. Yet, with time these improvements have matured and expanded across the healthcare industry.

This rapid expansion is due to the increased developments of 3D printing in the medical field, along with the greater healthcare industry showing significant growth other health-related areas such as dental applications and medical implants.

Although medical equipment and applications that contain metal are often times more costly, this expense is expected to drop as this material becomes more commonly used in the field. With demand and supply both on the rise, we can expect metal to decrease in price in the industry’s future.

johnson and johnsonA major driving force within the medical 3D printing industry is the growing demand for patient-specific products in orthopedics and maxillofacial surgery. Similar to other industries, demand for certain products will create an environment where the cost can decrease while also making said product more common in the industry.

Due to government subsidy programs and medical bio-printing research grants, many healthcare professionals in the industry predict the cost of 3D printing will decrease significantly in the coming years.

Recently, a huge partnership between Johnson & Johnson and HP has revolutionized the various ways in which the healthcare industry has and will operate in the future.

This new partnership’s primary focus is to create what they have titled “more personal healthcare solutions” in terms of personalizing software and products so consumers can receive what they need from a health related perspective based on particular patient needs.

This business collaboration is just the beginning for building the bridge between healthcare and technology to service our everyday health needs with digital tools that already affect other areas of our lives.

This strategic partnership does not only change the future of the healthcare industry in terms of patient-service advancement, but it also underlines how the beginning of how the meaning of 3D printing will be associated with a different kind of advancement.

As this huge pharma and medical device manufacturer continues to improve how their brand approaches healthcare, this is truly only the beginning when it comes to a new, more beneficial way to strengthen the consumer and brand loyalty bond.

Highlights from the Healthcare Industry

Half of American Hospitals Fined for High Readmission Numbers 

Michelle Andrews from Kaiser Health News has reported that more than half of all American hospitals are being penalized due to high readmission rates. Nearly 2600 hospitals will forfeit a combined $420 million in the form of reduced payments for medicare patients. These measures, which will begin taking effect in October, are the result of having too high a number o patients returning within one month after being discharged. Hospitals have publicly stated that these penalties are unfair as the readmission levels and fines do not consider or reward improvement from year to year.

IBM to Purchase Merge

Jeremy Barbera - IBM HealthcareCrain’s New York recently reported that the tech behemoth, IBM, has reached a deal to acquire Merge Healthcare inc. for a price of around $1 billion. IBM has plans to utilize Merge’s medical imaging management platform within their Watson tool. This its the latest in a series of moves from IBM that has them strengthening their hold within health care.

Doctors Say Cancer Drug Prices are Unsustainable

In a recent article from the Mayo Clinic, a group of more than one hundred renowned doctors came together to draw attention to the unsustainable nature of cancer drugs prices in the United States. This article references data collected by CBS’ 60 Minutes that shows that the pharmaceutical companies set the price of these drugs as high as they can get away with. The prices of cancer drugs have gradually, and alarmingly, increased an average of $8000 each year over the last decade and a half. The report notes that about a third of Americans will someday develop cancer, in one form or another, and that these patients tend to pay for a fifth or more of the cost of these drugs. Citing data on the average income of an American household, this Mayo Clinic report points out that the majority of patients will have to either take out loans or sell their assets in order to make payments. To learn more about this report and possible solutions, visit the official Mayo Clinic website.

Aetna and Humana: Giant in the making

Making insurance industry history last week, Aetna Inc announced they would be purchasing Humana. Setting the purchase price at a cool $37 billion in cash and stock, jaws dropped when Aetna’s powerful purchase became public. This combination now putting Aetna at the No.2 spot in active membership. this healthcare giant is poised to grow ever larger.

Jeremy Barbera - AetnaDwarfing what was considered to be the largest insurance deals of the past, this transaction has not gone unnoticed by the Antitrust Authority. Charged with insuring the fairness of our free-market, the Antitrust Authority is concerned that the growth of Aetna could spell trouble down the road for others in the healthcare industry, or possibly those in need of future services. The bigger the insurer, the more control they have negotiating over prices and doctor networks, controlling the level of care

Such a large health insurance conglomerate means a wider influence over several branches of insurance care. Medicare, Medicaid, individual and commercial insurance would all be governed by one powerful entity. While the combined power of these two healthcare giants seems daunting, giving the conjoined companies more than 80% saturation in certain states, Wall Street analysts believe the transaction will not meet any interference.

The final say, however, falls to The Justice Department. In charge of reviewing insurance mergers to prevent the formation of monopolies, the Antitrust Authority and The Justice Department are prepared to go through the fine print of this merger to locate any signs of foul play.

The combined power of Aetna and Humana services over 33 million medical members, with a projected operating revenue of $115 billion this year. While the finality of the merger has yet to be set in stone, very few obstacles look to stand in the way of these two giants combining their formidable strength.


Rates for Cancer Screening Have Plateued

A recent NPR blog describes how the screening rates for certain common cancers including breast, colorectal, and cervical cancer have stalled in recent years across the United States.

According to a report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, just 72.6% of women who are between the ages of fifty and seventy-two have reported being up-to-date on their recommend mammograms as of 2013. This number sits more than eight percentage points short of the eighty percent goal which health agencies hoped to reach by the year 2020. Most alarmingly, is the fact that the rates have plateaued.

The numbers regarding screening for cervical cancer appear to be marginally better. The same CDC report notes that a little more than eighty percent of women have received a Pap test recently. This sits more than twelve percentage points below the 2020 target numbers. In fact, the Pap test has experienced a robust decline over the last decade and a half as it has been administered at a rate of 5.5 percentage points lower than that of the year 2000.

Cancer Screening Rates

The 2020 goal set for screening rates for colorectal cancer sits at 70.5%. However, it seems unlikely the nation will achieve these goals as just 58.2% of men and women between the age of fifty and seventy-five have reported receiving a screening for the cancer in 2013. The rates experienced a significant spike around the turn of the millennium, but have since flattened out. Dr. Richard Wender, who serves as the American Cancer Society’s chief cancer control officer, notes that once you find yourself in such a plateau, it is hard to escape. However, he believes the numbers show the need to reinvigorate the charge to spur a nation-wide increase in cancer screening rates.

The report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention also makes mention of how insurance status, race, and income are correlated to disparities in screening rates. Wender points out how the rollout of the Affordable Care Act could engender an increase, but it is far from a full-fledged solution to this alarming issue.