Each year, the first Sunday in June marks National Cancer Survivors Day.
When you’re a cancer survivor, or happen to love one, every day is time to be grateful and celebrate that survival of someone who has come through a cancer journey. We all know (or are) people who have survived cancer. We know that the recipe for battling cancer goes beyond chemotherapy. We know of the resilience and grit required in the process: body, mind, and spirit.
“Celebrate Life” is the mantra of NCSD, as this year’s campaign attests, shown here.
Now, consider the Jasper stone.
Jasper, the rock, is believed by some people to have nurturing properties that give comfort, reassurance, and protection to believers who feel stress and negative energy. The rock is associated with tranquility, relaxation, and calm.
And that’s how “Jasper,” the health company, got its name.
Originally conceived and built as a direct-to-consumer platform to enable people with cancer diagnoses to self-care for psycho-social purposes, today Jasper announces an alliance with Walgreens to scale the user base through Walgreens Find Care portal: a digital front door to connect the retail pharmacy’s customers to Jasper’s community and services.
Walgreens launched Find Care Now in 2018. In the beginning, the Find Care Now online marketplace featured health systems like Advocate Health Care in Chicago, Baptist Health in Jacksonville, Community Health Network in Indianapolis, Providence Health System in the Pacific Northwest, among other providers; telehealth channels including MDLIVE, DermatologistOnCall, and Heal; and Walgreens’ own clinical services for hearing, optical, and urgent/primary care. In 2019, Find Care expanded services for consumers to manage chronic health conditions addressing asthma, COPD, and diabetes.
Then one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2021, Walgreens expanded Find Care a year into the COVID-19 pandemic with additional health systems, virtual care providers, specialty care, and lab and diagnostics services.
Now, Walgreens is enabling cancer patients to say, “Hello, Jasper.”
Jasper launched just over one year ago, spinning out of 7wireVentures and Redesign Health.
Jasper was designed as a digital platform to serve people with cancer, their caregivers and providers. It is powered by a team of digital health veterans, social workers specialized in oncology, and data scientists who enable patients to engage in their own care coordination, beyond the clinical.
The platform connects patients to the Jasper Care Guides – the high-touch aspect of the service. As a consumer-first platform, Jasper also supports consumers’ ability to schedule appointments, track symptoms and side effects, receive personalized content, messages, and recommendations.
Jasper’s data ecosystem complements the patient’s clinical data on the psycho-social side of the person – that is, “real life.” Patients can track nutrition and food intake, mood and mental health, financial issues, transportation, and activity (such as steps).
Together, these “data points” are our personal real world evidence of daily living – reflecting our risks for determinants of health (social and otherwise) and well-being. And they have helped people co-create health outcomes as quantified in the cancer care experience slide shown here.
“Individuals and their families are overwhelmed with the information, tasks, steep medical bills and the ‘unknown’ that cancer brings and are trying to manage everything with limited to no support. Jasper is changing that paradigm, with learnings from thousands of Members and caregivers by allowing them to take control of a diagnosis that is out of their control,” Adam Pellegrini, CEO and co-founder of Jasper Health, envisioned at the company’s launch.
That evidence is gaining attention from and traction with payers, employers and health systems.
Health care (and cancer care in particular) is a team sport and takes a proverbial village to surround the patient, so Jasper, like Walgreens, has been building out its own family of alliances. Jasper’s platform continues to build out a health data ecosystem, partnering with Fitbit and BioIntelliSense for remote health and wellness tracking to generate added biometric data that adds greater insights for patients and their care team.
Greg Orr, Jasper’s Chief Commercial Officer and General Manager, explained in a Zoom interview we convened last week, “We have to liberate the data…we are not replacing clinicians….we just give them better information.”
Oncologists, he and the Jasper team have learned, are concerned with the “how are you doing” aspects of patients’ lives — information that has not been collected in electronic health records.
The Jasper platform helps inform clinicians on an ongoing basis via trends in the data — from patients’ self-recorded mood tracking to steps on the day generated through Fitbit trackers.
“We talk about this in our all hands” meetings, Greg told me. “Remember what the data is you’re looking at –[say] trends of pain,” he has said to the internal team. “There are people behind those data points.”
Jasper is now working with an innovator in cognitive behavioral therapy, to bolster cancer patients’ mental health and wellbeing.
The cancer survivor needs support, too, beyond the phase of battling and, hopefully, conquering their cancer diagnosis.
Beyond the five-year period celebration of survival, patients can continue to experience anxiety and personal forms of PTSD.
Patient social networks and advocacy organizations have long been important touchpoints in patients’ lives.
Thus, on the “family” front, Jasper’s community of cancer patients has organically grown through connections with over 40 non-profit partners, such as Gilda’s Club in Kansas City, Imerman Angels of Chicago, The Rapunzel Project, Off Scrip Media, among dozens of other amazing organizations.
Now, Jasper adds Walgreens into this village of an ecosystem of cancer care and community. And part of that community is relationships we develop over the course of our lifetimes. I’ll point out that Adam Pellegrini and Greg Orr worked together at Walgreens growing the companies early digital health efforts. It is exciting to see this “band” back together working for the benefit of patients and clinicians — to, indeed, redesign health.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: Last week, BDO published a report on Cancer Care in 2022.
The firm assessed the toxic side effect that COVID-19 had on cancer care and patients — current and not-yet-diagnosed.
The graphic here comes from data presented in the report on the volume of estimated missed screenings in the U.S. in the first half of 2020, and the decline of cancer diagnoses between March and May 2020 — the latter based on the expected number of diagnoses from the previous year’s experience. (These data came from a JAMA Oncology article published in April 2021).
The BDO report also discussed cancer’s emotional toll on patients.
“Oncology professionals know all too well the emotional toll that cancer and treatments can have on patients. In pre-pandemic times, family and friends were lifelines for patients undergoing treatments and grappling with a life-changing disease,” BDO observes at the end of the report.
In their calls-to-action for improving this situation, BDO asserts that, “improving the patient experience can encourage people to get regular cancer screenings, and undertaking digital transformation can help bridge care gaps. Providers should consider new ways to not only mitigate the damage that has been done, but also find ways to anticipate and address similar challenges in the future.”
Jasper is one pioneering example of a tool to bolster such digital transformation, re-shaping the care experience for both patient and their loved ones, as well as provider systems and clinicians.
As 7wireVentures Managing Partner Lee Shapiro said at Jasper’s launch, “Our key objective is to support founders who are enabling a more Informed, Connected Health Consumer and Jasper Health aligns perfectly with our values…Ultimately, Jasper empowers individuals by equipping them with resources and information to be stewards of their own health and care journey.”