Yousuf Zafar, MD, MHS, and healthcare technology company Vivor are the recent recipients of a National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute six-month grant of $224,997, which will fund initial development of a novel technology-based method designed to reduce cancer patients’ financial burden by improving access to financial assistance programs.
Zafar, the project’s principal investigator, is an oncologist and associate professor of medicine and public policy at Duke University School of Medicine who has done extensive research on the effect of financial toxicity in cancer care.
The primary grantee, Vivor, builds software designed to maximize the use of financial assistance programs by patients and providers. The company employs a unique blend of domain expertise and cutting-edge technology to transform the way access financial resources.
“A large proportion of cancer patients are at risk of experiencing treatment-related financial burden that worsens their quality of life and prevents them from receiving the best cancer treatment possible,” said Zafar. “This project will explore ways that could potentially reduce the burdens of cancer and improve the quality of care delivery.”
The first phase of the project, which was funded by NIH/NCI, centers around developing a web-based tool called Bridge that allows patients to quickly and accurately identify financial assistance resources for their unique situations. The tool’s usability will be studied and improved upon with study participants enrolled at DCI.
Zafar and Vivor CEO Ian Manners will receive an additional NIH/NCI award upon completion of Phase 1 in the amount of $1.5 million ($996,786 in May 2017 and $502,303 in 2018) to extend Bridge into a fully-featured mobile app that empowers patients to estimate and plan their expenses during treatment, identify assistance programs, and coordinate with a financial counselor to secure financial assistance. Phase II will also include a randomized controlled trial, conducted by Zafar’s team at DCI, comparing Bridge to standard-of-care financial counseling. The trial will primarily measure Bridge’s ability to reduce patient out-of-pocket cost. Additionally, the trial will assess Bridge’s impact on patients’ knowledge of financial resources, quality of life, and subjective financial distress.
“This STTR Fast-Track grant from NCI allows us to develop technology that reduces financial toxicity by taking advantage of existing but underused resources,” said Manners. “Beyond the benefit for patients, this technology will also have significant commercial potential due to its compelling value proposition for provider organizations and pharmaceutical companies.”
Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R42CA210699. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.