A Toronto Startup is Teaming Up with Hospitals to Improve Cancer Care

A new MedChart partnership will empower Ontario cancer patients to receive after-hours care without visiting an emergency room.

The Toronto-based MedChart is partnering with Ontario’s largest hospital network, select hospitals and healthcare centres in a project called CAREChart@Home; a project that recently received just shy of $500,000 through Ontario’s Health Technologies Fund.

CAREChart@Home will help cancer patients receiving systemic therapy make sense of potential therapy side effects from their home instead of making a potentially unnecessary visit to a hospital.

MedChart gathers and digitizes patient medical records from all health care providers, giving them the ability to see and share those records from their smartphone or computer.

Through the new partnership, the University Health Network, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Sunnybrook Health Science Centre, Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre and Windsor Regional Hospital will send both electronic and written notes to MedChart’s cloud-based system.

It is not uncommon for cancer patients to receive treatment from multiple hospitals and healthcare centres. Inspired by his own experience seeing his father-in-law go through cancer treatment at a web of hospitals, MedChart CEO James Bateman said the company’s software is helping fill a noticeable gap in after-hours care for cancer patients.

“There is some frustration… Cancer patients are not able to direct their health information to meet their health needs,” said Bateman. “MedChart takes all the health data that a patient owns in the entire health care system and puts it in their hands, and gives them the tools to be able to share the information with anyone they choose at their own discretion.”

Cancer patients can connect with a registered nurse over the phone after clinic hours if they aren’t feeling well. But with the startup’s software, nurses at Bayshore HealthCare can tap into a patient’s entire health record in real-time, something that telemedicine services don’t typically have access to.

MedChart’s portal lets nurses see a patient’s complete medical chart, make informed clinical decisions, and ultimately determine if they need to visit an emergency room.

In Ontario, roughly 60,000 cancer patients are currently receiving systemic therapy, including chemotherapy, the most common form of systemic cancer treatment. Nearly 50 per cent of those patients will experience treatment-related side effects, often resulting in unnecessary visits to the emergency department, according to Cancer Care Ontario. The organization calculates the annual impact of these potentially avoidable emergency department visits to about $7.5 million.

Bateman said CAREChart@Home is hoping to relieve some of the burden on the healthcare system while also helping cancer patients avoid waiting in emergency rooms for hours only to be told they are fine.

“These hospitals can easily connect their health information systems to MedChart, and now patients have ownership of their data and can provide it to telemedicine after-hour nurses,” said Bateman. “If they have to go to emerge, patients can go with their complete medical history in hand.”

The startup has been working with Southlake Regional Health Centre since May 2017 and currently has eight hospitals apart of its network. To date, 1,700 unique healthcare providers and institutions have released 23,500 records to MedChart with patient permission.