Reporter Journal / William Hennelly

High-tech partnership connects Chinese, US doctors in cancer fight

By William Hennelly (China Daily USA) Updated: 2015-10-01 12:32

A US company and a Chinese counterpart are teaming up to battle cancer, using technology in the fight against the deadly disease.

ICAN China, a subsidiary of Morristown, New Jersey-based Cancer Action Now Inc (iCAN), announced this week that it will partner with HuKang Inc in Hangzhou to provide Chinese physicians access to US cancer experts.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 3 million people a year in China are diagnosed with cancer.

"The pace at which the science is evolving in cancer treatment is difficult for anyone to keep up with," iCAN CEO Jeff Meehan told China Daily. "It is becoming more and more necessary to have access to those at the forefront of these advancements.

"In addition, some patients in China lack the ability and/or resources to get access in a timely manner to some of the local thought leaders in China who are overwhelmed daily with new patients," he said. "This partnership is a natural evolution of two organizations seeking to help those with cancer achieve the best possible outcomes for their situation."

Meehan said that "HuKang possesses the local knowledge, while iCAN makes our network of experts available as a service for patients and their doctors to access information about their cancer management that validates their current plan or helps provide additional treatment recommendations from experts in the United States."

How did this business concept come about?

High-tech partnership connects Chinese, US doctors in cancer fight

"We had been working with some key faculty in China to understand some of the market dynamics," Meehan said.

"If you get diagnosed (with cancer), and you live in one of these remote provinces, and you want to travel to Shanghai or Beijing to get seen by one of the experts at a major cancer center, you have to drive.

"You take a ticket in the morning, and they only give out a certain number of tickets each day, and if you get there too late and you don't get a ticket, you have to go home and come back the next day," he said.

"I think the system is fairly overwhelmed over there," Meehan said. "You have all of these patients in these remote provinces, some of whom have some resources, and really want to get that expert opinion.

"The experts at the big centers are just overwhelmed," he said. "They're seeing 150 patents a month, which is probably five to 10 times what (physicians) in the US see."

Meehan said his company's service is "really driven by the patients".

"HuKang has the distribution network connected to the local oncologists," he said. "We can use our propriety platform. The Chinese doctor can upload all of the documents, and we have medical translators who will translate the documents into medical English for the US expert to review.

"Through our platform (which Meehan described as a Skype-like setup) the doctors can have an exchange of information: essentially, a 30-minute consultation. The doctor in China will talk for 30 minutes with the US expert, talk about what the options are.

"There are some gaps (in medical care in China). "There's not enough radiation machines," Meehan said. For example, "immunotherapy is available in the US but not available in China. Leveraging our proprietary technology platform to facilitate this conversation, so that given the patient's circumstances, they can get the best possible outcome.

"One of the gaps is access to the real experts in China because they're overwhelmed," he said. "The doctors we match them with are world-renowned experts. We're making sure the doctors in China are getting in touch with people who are creating the advancements.

"For some reason, there's a high demand for US expertise in medicine," he said.

Meehan said that lung, liver and breast cancers are "very prevalent" in China. He said hepatitis also was prevalent in the entire Asia-Pacific region.

"We are excited to partner with Cancer Action Now so that physicians in China, on behalf of their patients, can have a direct line to top cancer experts in the US," said HuKang CEO Li Chen. "Through technology, this partnership is expected to help providers optimize outcomes among cancer patients."

HuKang provides two services for hospitals and physicians. First, the company matches large-metropolitan-area physicians willing to work a second position and handle heavy caseloads with hospitals in need of high-quality physicians in less-populated areas.

Second, they provide local area oncologists and their patients access to leading cancer physicians and surgeons with international reputations through iCAN.

This type of matching of medical experts can only be another win-win exchange for the US and China.

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