With the explosion of health-related apps, it’s no surprise that developers are releasing increasingly specialized and sophisticated mobile tools. One such tool is CancerRx, an app meant to inform healthcare providers on the increasingly mainstream field of precision oncology. Co-developed by MedPage Today and CollabRx, CancerRx features a Therapy Finder tool that enables providers to search for the latest drug and genetic information for four major types of cancer: breast, lung, melanoma, and colorectal. We had the opportunity to speak with the Senior Vice President at MedPage Today, Chris O’Brien, about the CancerRx app.
Shiv Gaglani, Medgadget: Can you elaborate on the concept of “precision oncology”?
Chris O’Brien: We are in an era of target therapies and sophisticated tumor molecular testing that allows an oncologist to narrow down the list of therapies to the ones that are more likely to have a positive impact. As more and more genetic markers of specific cancers are identified it allows for precision oncology, where drugs and diagnostics specific to the genome of the tumor can make a real difference. Cancer will become the #1 killer in the world surpassing cardiovascular disease. It is imperative that we provide oncologists with advanced tools to assist in their practices.
Medgadget: How are you differentiating CancerRx from existing apps for oncologists and other providers?
O’Brien: Currently no other mobile app offers a Therapy Finder that has the data we have down to the genomic level. This is key to making sure that oncologists are able to pursue the best possible therapies. There are the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines which are not interactive nor have the same amount of data that CancerRX has combined with late breaking news. We have also gotten feedback from oncologists that it is very important to have this data easily accessible in the form of an app.
Medgadget: In the relatively crowded space of physician tools/engagement, what makes MedPage Today different?
O’Brien: Medpage Today provide a more comprehensive set of news and information than other properties. Most other “news” sites feature a standard Reuters newsfeed or other licensed content covering the top stories of the week. We produce over 15 original news stories daily across a wide range of specialties. We also now have a Washington Bureau reporting on Health Policy. We have over 30 editors and journalists in the field attending medical conferences and interviewing policy makers. We believe this to be the largest medical news-gathering operation in the world. We will also be adding a number of other point of care tools and resources for physicians and other HCPs in the coming year.
Medgadget: Are there any particular trends in medical tech that excite you?
O’Brien: We are witnessing an explosion of Health IT from applications that link patients to clinicians to sophisticated decision support tools like Cancer Rx. The hope is that all of these new technologies can lower the cost of healthcare and improve outcomes. In particular we think that the next few years will bring a range of new applications that connect providers and patients and allow for better ongoing management of conditions.
Medgadget: What is your background in medical technology and innovation?
O’Brien: My personal background is in software. I started as a developer at Bell Labs/Bellcore and have started a number of software businesses over the last 15 years. I moved into Digital Health in 2012 as it was clear that health and medicine represent a tremendous long term opportunity for software, combined with the right content and infrastructure, to make a difference for providers and patients.
Link: CancerRx on iTunes…