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Expert opinion on cancer treatment now available online

Mumbai (IANS): One of Asia’ biggest cancer care institution, Tata Memorial Centre (TMC) will now offer online cancer treatment options from top experts, an official said here on Tuesday.

TMC has partnered with Navya Network, a clinical informatics and patient services company, to launch the consultation service, TMC Online, to provide expert decision system for cancer patients, said TMC director Dr Rajendra A Badwe.

The system was introduced and validated with a limited launch for breast cancer in May 2014 for which over 2,000 patients from India, south Asia and other countries in the world registered and more than 660 expert opinions were provided by TMC oncologists, he said.

“Today, TMC Online is launched to offer online consultations for all types of cancers, including lung, oral, gynaecologic, colon, blood, and paediatric. TMC Online — Tata Memorial Centre’s Expert Opinion Service — is accessible through the websites of TMC and Navya,” Badwe told media persons here.

He explained that two major problems encountered by cancer patients in India and worldwide are access to medical care and cost-effective medicines.

“While access will be addressed through TMC Online – Expert Opinion Service, and cost-effective treatment is one of the key missions of Tata Memorial Centre,” Badwe said.

Cutting through the boundaries of class and region, making cancer care accessible and affordable to one and all is TMC’s constant aim, and TMC Online is an endeavour to achieve this objective,” he added.

Emphasizing the need for uniform evidence-based decision-making across India, he said the TMC Online is a step towards this objective.

A major benefit of the TMC-Navya’s efforts would be to prevent cancer patients travelling from far off places to metros to get evidence-based expert treatment decisions, he pointed out.

According to Badwe, there are a few hundred expert oncologists who are mostly concentrated in the metro cities, but the number of cancer patients needing expert treatment decisions runs into millions.

For instance, only the TMC in Parel sees over 60,000 patients each year, including new patients, follow-up cases, referrals or second opinion cases, from India, South Asia, Africa, Middle East and South-east Asia.

“These consultations are in the form of emails to the doctors or personal visits which are expensive and inefficient, depriving them of an opportunity to get expert opinions and treatment planning from the TMC,” Badwe said.

Navya Network founder Gitika Srivastava said that making a decision for cancer treatment is complex with multiple decision points through the course of the patient’s treatment.

“Those decisions, when made in consultation with an expert and reliable medical evidence can make all the difference in the strength, will, and focus with which a patient approaches his or her treatment. Patients and caregivers are left reassured that they are undergoing the best possible treatment that will combat this curveball of a situation,” Srivastava said.

Both Badwe and Srivastava concurred that TMC Online would empower patients with timely and affordable access to expert treatment decisions and revolutionise the way cancer care is delivered not only in India but also in other countries.

Chief Medical Officer of Navya Network Dr Naresh Ramarajan said it takes too much time for a doctor to read all medical reports, clarify issues with the patient, consult colleagues and then arrive at a decision for treatment.

“The Navya Expert System has been designed to provide a structured snapshot to an expert with all of the relevant information that they need. Structure allows them to think and decide, i.e. do what they do best – make the final expert decision for the patient,” Ramarajan said.

The TMC Online service is currently available for Rs 5,000 for Indian patients living in India and $100 for international patients, but offers free to Indian patients in the BPL category.


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