Have you ever struggled to share a health issue with loved ones? Now imagine you are terminally ill and faced with bouts of debilitating pain that randomly afflict your body.
CancerLife, a platform that connects patients, hospitals, and family members, aims to answer these challenges with communication. The private social tool acts like a more structured group text message, through which a cancer patient can update her network of “supporters” on changes in her prognosis, status and needs.
It’s a product of Healthy Platforms, a health technology company founded by Charlie Coltman in late 2010 when his friend Chris Mattioli needed a better way to communicate more effectively with family members following his Stage III cancer diagnosis. When Mattioli passed away in August 2013 from pancreatic cancer it motivated Coltman, a software sales executive, to think bigger about his goals.
CancerLife was initially created for patients to communicate with their family members. Patients can invite family members to a private profile, complete with a comments queue, status updates feature and pain scale. Once the request is accepted, invitees will receive text updates when the patient each time the profile is updated.
However CancerLife is not only useful for connecting family members with patients. Coltman and his small team at Healthy Platforms built a site that allows hospitals to monitor wellness updates for individual patients. This triangulated network gives a health services providers access to information.
As Coltman explained during the February Philly Tech Meetup, CancerLife is compliant with the federal legislation that scares so many of health IT startups — the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) — because it maintains the traditional doctor-patient relationship while connecting family members to the patient through privacy features.
Healthy Platforms is making sure its offerings diagnosis the right problems and also faces the challenge of how many different diseases a product like CancerLife could help.
“We’re flexibile but that is also a problem, balancing between focus and service in the marketplace” Coltman explained.
Healthy Platforms, Coltman explained, is now focusing on new illness verticals and is developing patient satisfaction surveys to improve service. The company recently demoed a prototype application for those diagnosed with hepatitis C.
The flexible patient-family-doctor model is based on a simple premise. “Better symptom management equals happier patient [which leads to] greater revenue for the hospital,” he said.
The National Cancer Institute website indicates that there are “cancer-related health observances” for nine out of twelve months in 2014. While awareness about cancer abounds, the impact of the disease is at least as great. According to Coltman, “50 percent of all Americans will have cancer lives at some point in their lives.”-30-
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