By Tim Linn
GateHouse News Service
Posted Jan 28, 2012 @ 08:39 AM
Jennifer Klemp is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center. She is also the director of cancer survivorship for the center. It was that later specialty that spurred the new venture, called Cancer Survivorship Training Inc.
Hospitals have constantly shifting guidelines for care, Klemp said, one of the newest ones being that accredited cancer centers have cancer survivorship programs in place by 2015.
With that in mind, she said Thursday that she began researching how cancer survivorship programs were being delivered currently at hospitals nationwide. Klemp said the results, coming directly from hospitals nationwide, seemed to indicate there was a lot of work to do in the lead up to 2015.
“Only 13 percent of respondents had any sort of formal programs,” she said.
Another 60 percent of respondents, Klemp said, had not begun to start setting up a survivorship care program or were in the thinking phase. The survey also sought to gauge how those respondents would like to train to set up a survivors care program.
Klemp said survivorship programs have an important place in the “continuum of care.” Though most patients have primary care physicians and oncologists, there has long been a gulf in the middle. Klemp said patients often receive a host of information at the time of diagnosis from their primary care professionals — information that they might not need until years later. And oncologists’ primary concern is looking for the return of cancer. Survivor care, Klemp said, bridges the gap between the two.
“It’s coming in and making sure you don’t have any major side effects from the treatments, your heart’s doing fine, your bones are fine,” she said. “It’s a true multi-disciplinary approach.”
Using the results of the survey plus the fact that her office has had requests for guidance setting up survivor care programs, Klemp said she started putting together some tools for a “systemwide” disbursement of training. Although a grant that would have funded that effort did not pan out, Klemp said another opportunity — one to license the research from KU and set up a business — did emerge. Because of the unpredictability of grant funding from one year to the next, Klemp said that route might have been a better option for the long term anyway.
“This is allowing for built-in sustainability,” she said.
In May, Klemp said Cancer Survivorship Training Inc., the startup company for which she will have oversight, will officially launch its services, offering a number of online and mobile applications to help train and educate healthcare providers on cancer survivorship programs.
Julie Gooneardene, KU’s associate vice chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship, applauded the effort.
“We’re excited and proud to work with Dr. Klemp and facilitate the creation of this new startup company — the 23rd startup company to come out of KU,” she said. “At KU, we’re working to encourage an entrepreneurial mindset among our researchers so we can continue to transfer university research into new products and new cures. This is exactly the type of technology transfer that we want to facilitate.”
For Klemp, the new effort is a way to improve more than just healthcare professionals’ credentials.\
“The ultimate goal is obviously we want to improve patient care,” she said.