DNAdigest interviews CareAcross
Thanos Kosmidis, a technology and business professional, joined forces with his father, Paris Kosmidis, a medical oncologist with 40 years of clinical experience, to start CareAcross to help patients with cancer and their relatives.
- What is CareAcross and what is its mission?
CareAcross is a digital health company focusing on cancer. Our mission is to support people affected by cancer through credible information, useful tools, psychological support & guidance from experts. Our vision is to facilitate faster, more effective oncology research, and interactions that will improve quality of life of patients and caregivers. We do this through our online platform for patients and caregivers.
- How and when did it start? What science/research is behind CareAcross?
CareAcross.com started in the fall of 2013, when we began putting together a first prototype of an online service for cancer patients and their loved ones. This was after 18 months of research into their “pains, needs and wants”, and the corresponding gaps. Throughout, we have interviewed hundreds of patients and caregivers, and have had roundtables with dozens of healthcare professionals with experience in oncology. These experts continue to be the driving force behind the scientific direction of the company, shaping how we inform, educate and care for patients and their loved ones.
- What is your background and your role in this project?
My education and professional experience is in technology and business, ranging from software development to commercial strategy. After 15 years in companies on both sides of the Atlantic, I joined forces with my father to start CareAcross. He is a medical oncologist with 40 years of clinical experience, and has served as president of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO).
My role is to lead the product strategy, marketing and business development of the company. My father is the Chief Medical Officer, and is responsible for the medical and scientific liaisons as well as our scientific content.
- Who are other participants of this project and what do they do?
Our team also consists of great colleagues working on technology, design, content management and other parts of the business. We are also fortunate that our legal counsel has international experience in bioethics, data privacy and patient rights.
Moreover, we have a broad panel of experts across multiple fields in healthcare (from oncology, surgeons, nutritionists, clinical researchers etc) that are contributing original material to the growing body of patient-centric information hosted on the platform.
Finally, we are honoured to have a top-notch international Scientific Committee of experienced oncologists from 20 countries, who provide us with insights into the latest developments on their field of oncology expertise.
- What can a patient expect from CareAcross?
Patients, as well as their caregivers, can benefit in 4 specific ways from CareAcross.com:
i. Pose their questions to the platform, and receive an answer within hours from our broad panel of experts; this is not intended to replace medical advice but can really help guide them through the maze of information and decisions.
ii. Connect with other patients and caregivers to exchange practical tips and support around diagnosis, treatment options, quality of life improvement and psychosocial aspects.
iii. Use interactive tools to help them manage their condition. For example, they can use an advanced clinical trial matching tool which enables them to find the best clinical trial just by picking their condition; this uses semantic analysis of public data to match the appropriate filters. Another tool can help them assess their genetic risk of cancer based on scientific guidelines related to the Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) syndrome.
iv. Read the latest information and research developments in oncology, organised by cancer type. These are selected, curated and reviewed daily out of dozens of sources, and aim at delivering the most impactful news for anyone affected by cancer.
All of these are provided completely free, anonymously and in total privacy.
- Do you collaborate with other projects and organisations?
We have been working with a multitude of groups, organisations and companies. These include many patient support groups and cancer charities, professional associations and organisations, as well as companies large and small whose goals are aligned with ours.
These collaborations have resulted in, among other things, events for patients, online webinars, custom content for disease awareness etc.
- Do you work with patient data? If yes, what do you do with it?
We are firm believers in the power of patient data to enhance their quality of life, expedite research efforts, and amplify learning opportunities. At the same time, we are passionate about preserving patient privacy and anonymity, putting our members in control of their data.
The platform collects a variety of anonymous data points from those interacting with it, ranging from their interaction with the platform and its content, to their diagnosis and evolution of quality of life.
We have been working with a variety of partners, and are planning even more initiatives to leverage data for the benefit of cancer patients worldwide.
- What is your position with regards to ‘data sharing’?
Data sharing can only be possible and effective when it is done with the patient’s benefit in mind, and with privacy. Furthermore, we advocate for the education of the public on the benefits and risks of sharing data across any platform (online or offline).
At the same time, we are eager to listen to our members and act accordingly. As a matter of fact, we recently conducted a survey where they overwhelmingly expressed their willingness to share data for research and for current patients’ outcomes.
- How do you see the future of CareAcross?
We are very excited about what lies ahead for the intersection of health and technology in general, and CareAcross in particular. We are working to provide more benefits to the patient community, and enhance the industry’s ability incorporate the patient’s voice throughout their operations – from research to long-term care.
Part of the future of CareAcross includes the incorporation of genetic and genomic data into the patient’s data. In our view, looking at such data from the individual patient’s perspective opens up enormous opportunities for research and personalised treatments – especially in oncology.
We believe the time has come to really place patient at the centre, across the continuum of care – and technology can play a leading role in this transition.
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