The burgeoning intersection of health and technology holds tremendous promise. As experts in both fields are increasingly mindful of the other’s value, if not inevitability, we see exciting and meaningful examples of innovation in technology-enabled clinical care. Leveraging technology in the service of cancer patients and their families is not new to the Cancer Support Community (CSC). Our expansion into the tech space includes an array of digital tools to improve care for cancer patients and their providers, including Cancer Support Source, a comprehensive distress screening program for community oncology practices and patient advocacy groups; CancerEd, a series of eLearning courses for cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers; and the Cancer Experience Registry, a unique online community that allows people facing cancer to share their experiences, identify the issues that impact their lives, and learn from one another. (I strongly encourage our readers to explore these resources by clicking on the links provided.)
On trend with the proliferation of tech in health, this year’s South By Southwest Festival (SXSW), historically a convergence of the film and music industries, had a notable healthcare focus. From panels on patient-centric care and dynamic innovations in healthcare, to a novel three part series, Connect to End Cancer, health and tech experts from around the world came together to discuss their shared future. I was fortunate enough to attend this year’s SXSW and was struck by the thoughtfulness of many of the panelists I heard. From social determinants of health to unequal distribution of digital resources, I was relieved to see technologists acknowledge the critical importance of anchoring innovation to the lived experience of patients and clinicians. Conversely, healthcare providers – this nurse included – are increasingly supportive of using technology to improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.
Former Vice President Joseph Biden brought the health-tech relationship to center stage, literally and figuratively, at this year’s SXSW. Addressing a packed and eager audience, Biden announced his plans for the Biden Cancer Initiative and called on all innovators and entrepreneurs to take on ending cancer as we know it, a continuing call to action from his leadership of the White House Cancer Moonshot.
Biden is right to identify the promise and unprecedented opportunity of addressing healthcare challenges through innovation, and CSC supports this trajectory in technology-enabled health services. We are also deeply committed to ensuring that all our efforts, from standard of care to pioneering, address the true needs of patients and families facing cancer because, as one SXSW panelist astutely noted, “If we forget about the human side of this, whether it’s the physician or the patient, we lose.”