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  • Author: Farzana Begum x
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Naresh Ramarajan, Farzana Begum and Gitika Srivastava

Background: Availability of care is an important characteristic of effective primary healthcare systems. Imbalanced oncologist to patient ratios (∼1600: 1.8 M in India, ∼23,000: 15 M in USA), impedes access to expertise. On average it takes a week or more to get an online expert review from leading cancer hospitals in the United States and in India. Such delays have an important psychosocial impact on the patient and caregivers. Patients worldwide often race to start treatments at non-expert centers and may experience worse health outcomes from lack of expert tumor board review of their cases. This study aimed to examine the impact of Navya, a health services technology, on reducing the patient wait time in real-time treatment decision making. Methods: Navya generates personalized treatment plans that maps 98.8% within NCCN Resource Stratified Guidelines [SABCS 2017, NCCN 2018]. This is vetted on mobile by oncologists at tertiary centers like TMC NCG to provide expert opinion reports to patients. Since 2015, approximately 25,775 patients from 60 countries have reached out for an online opinion. On the ground, 78% of patients received evidence-based treatments recommended by Navya [ASCO 2017]. The Navya system releases preliminary system-generated opinions for patients whose treatment plans fit high confidence based on NCCN Guidelines and prior expert reviews. The mean reduction in time between a system-generated opinion and an expert-reviewed opinion was studied in a prospective cohort of patients between July 1, 2017, and August 30, 2018. Results: 313 patients received a system-generated treatment plan in the study period. Only approximately 10% of these plans were modified by experts to add additional treatment details since these were cases with high confidence in treatment decision-making. Navya delivered a preliminary treatment plan on an average of 86 hours (SD, 153 hours) prior to the expert response time. Of the 313 patients studied, 44% of patients would have waited an additional 3 days longer to receive an expert-reviewed recommendation. Conclusions: Navya’s NCCN and evidence-based treatment plans reduce the patient waiting times for an expert opinion average by 86 hours. This rapid confirmation of the right treatment plan at the time of patient need has potential to relieve patient anxieties at critical junctures in treatment decision-making and helps improve the treatment-planning process.