Patient Engagement & Support : An Interview with Len Grenier, CEO of Equicare Health

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 l_grenier_500x500-1On our blog today, we’re sharing a conversation that we had with Equicare Health’s CEO Len Grenier, to shed light on the work they are doing for the cancer community. We’re proud to partner with them and look forward to welcoming them to Boston when they arrive for ASTRO’s 2016 Annual Meeting, to be held September 25-28. We are attending as one of two recipients of the ASTRO Survivor Circle grant. (Shout out to our friends at Boston Cancer Support for being the other recipient!)

Equicare Health is a Canada-based company that is dedicated to improving patient engagement and healthcare navigation. They’ll be exhibiting at ASTRO and have created a short patient engagement survey to better understand the relationship between providers and patients; for every person who responds, they’ll donate $25 to The Samfund. We love their dedication to patient engagement and survivorship and are grateful for their support of our work. Come visit them at booth #9051, share your insight through their quick survey, and generate a donation to The Samfund. Win all-around!

How do patients and survivors benefit from the work Equicare is doing?

A lot of what we have done has been based on a report released in 2005, called From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor: Lost in Transition, which showed that average survival rates had dramatically improved, which created an issue of survivors facing significant late effects and not being managed or treated effectively. That led us to come up with a way of building a long-term plan for patients. We recognized that most people who go through cancer treatment don’t – or can’t – go back to the way things were before. They have to deal with a “new normal” and there are a lot of issues surrounding that. Having completed treatment, how do you get someone back to a state where they can live as good a life as possible? It’s important for people to understand the consequences of their treatment before they happen, so that they can best manage side effects as well as late effects. We want to provide educational material to help people make well-informed choices.  One of the big things we do is provide a set of tools to healthcare providers, so that they can best support their patients, no matter where they are in their treatment.

How is Equicare using technology to help cancer patients and survivors?

Equicare provides a web-based piece of software that interfaces with the oncology system and electronic health record in a facility. This allows us to provide information, via a patient portal, to a large number of patients. They would see medical notes, test results, educational material that is appropriate to where they are in their treatment, and a treatment summary that is updated in real time. Our hope, in collecting this data, is that eventually it can be combined with other diagnostic data and provide the ability to see the ideal treatment plan for a specific disease and treatment.

Young adult cancer patients and survivors have seen slower rates of improvement in survival over the past few decades. How does patient-centered care and the work that Equicare is doing affect the treatment outcomes and quality of life of young adult cancer survivors?

Doing effective surveillance is most important. There are too many stories of people (especially young adults) being treated too late for things that should have been screened for but weren’t. We advocate for effective surveillance that is specific to the individual. You could see someone who is 28 and seems healthy, but may have the heart health of a 60-year old because of cardiomyopathy. Being able to screen and protect these folks is very important. Making good decisions early is also important: as one example, making sure the young adult community understands fertility preservation before their treatment matters if they want to have biological children later. We want to help everyone make decisions early to lead to maximum quality of life downstream.

What do you hope to learn from the doctors and attendees at ASTRO?

We want to really understand more broadly how the radiology community is engaging with patients and survivors. We see a select population are concerned about survivor engagement and want to put programs in place. We hope this survey will give us guidance on what we should be doing next, and help to identify any aspects or challenges that should be emphasized or any we may have missed.

What about The Samfund made you want to partner with us?

The Samfund is really serving an underserved population and the support you are providing to young adult cancer survivors is amazing. We want to improve care post-treatment and working with you seemed like a good fit. It’s a bonus that you are from Boston and an ASTRO Survivor Circle grant recipient!

What is currently on the horizon for Equicare Health?

We are really interested in the current trend of increased screening rather than waiting until someone is symptomatic. We think things such as lung cancer screening for high risk populations and funding for colorectal screening are incredibly positive things. If you can find cancer early, the survival rates go up. We are building tools to help people in the screening phase and we see early detection as important.

 

Find out more about Equicare Health. Do you know of an organization or company that is doing good work for young adult cancer survivors? Let us know! Contact pam@thesamfund.org.

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