The Tata Memorial Center (TMC), one of Asia' biggest cancer care institution, has partnered with Navya Network, a clinical informatics and patient services company, to launch TMC Online, the online consultation service to provide expert decision system for cancer patients, informed TMC director Rajendra A. Badwe.
Badwe said, "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. Today, TMC Online is launched to offer online consultations for all types of cancers, including lung, oral, gynecologic, colon, blood, and pediatric. TMC Online - Tata Memorial Center's Expert Opinion Service - is accessible through the websites of TMC tmc.gov.in and Navya navyanetwork.com."
Badwe explained that two major problems encountered by cancer patients in India and worldwide are access to medical care and cost-effective medicines. He added, "While access will be addressed through TMC Online - Expert Opinion Service, and cost-effective treatment is one of the key missions of Tata Memorial Center. 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 endeavor to achieve this objective."
Emphasizing the need for uniform evidence-based decision-making across India, Badwe said that the TMC Online is a step towards this objective. He pointed out that a major benefit of the TMC-Navya's efforts would be to prevent cancer patients traveling from far off places to metros to get evidence-based expert treatment decisions.
Badwe said, "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."
Navya Network founder Gitika Srivastava said, "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."
Both Badwe and Srivastava were of the same opinion that TMC Online would empower patients with timely and affordable access to expert treatment decisions and revolutionize the way cancer care is delivered not only in India but also in other countries.
Chief Medical Officer of Navya Network 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."
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 services to Indian patients in the BPL category.