In an era defined by the internet, even the future of cancer care can be discussed on social media platforms.
On Twitter, patients, survivors, caregivers, physicians and others can converse with each other using a common hashtag to link the responses. Several communities have developed chats, including cancer-specific groups such as breast cancer (#BCSM) as well as media organizations such as CURE (#CureConnect). Chats choose a hashtag to be included in all responses that are part of the chat, allowing people easy view to other individuals’ replies. Chat moderators encourage people to interact with other participants and share their own insight or experiences.
Recently, a tweet chat run by Stanford Medicine X (@StanfordMedX) took place using #C3Prize and #MedX regarding the Astellas Oncology C3 Prize, which will award three people grants of $50,000 or $25,000 to develop their idea meant to advance cancer care. Astellas welcomes all ideas regarding navigation, adherence, care coordination and survivorship. Submissions are due on August 8 and five finalists will be notified on August 15. Finalists must present their idea in California for a chance to win a grant, a one-year membership to MATTER and the possibility of assistance from Astellas to develop their idea.
The chat was joined by Robert Herjavec, one of the stars on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and founder of technology company Herjavec Group, as well as Michael Seres, a blogger, founder of the medical device company 11Health and head of the patient strand of Social Media at the National Health Service. Both men will be judging the submissions and helping to decide the winners. Cancer is an important matter for Herjavec because of his mother’s passing due to ovarian cancer. Seres was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2015, has suffered from Crohn’s disease since age 12 and received a small bowel transplant.
Stanford Medicine X opened the chat asking people to share their personal connections to cancer. Answers varied and often included the diagnosis and treatment of a friend, family member or even themselves. Some reported the loss of a loved one and hoped to help the cancer community with their experience in mind. The mediators of the chat, Herjavec and Seres, furthered the conversation by asking what could have made their experience with cancer easier.
Stanford Medicine X then asked tweet chat participants what they thought of the current cancer care system. Answers from users again varied, as some said that decisions are made too quickly, personalized care is still not as prevalent as it should be and that discussions of the disease and treatment are not simple enough for patients to understand.
Following this question, Stanford Medicine X asked if there were solutions to these issues that could make an impactful change in cancer care. Suggestions included consulting patients when deciding on a path of treatment, involving providers and nurses from beginning to end of care, increasing the use of personalized medicine, providing people with better care for side effects, making more tools available to patients and improving the support system after diagnosis.
Chats such as #C3Prize occur often within the cancer community for obvious reasons: It allows for patients and survivors to communicate and bond over their shared experiences while other players — physicians, nurses, pharmaceutical companies and more — can listen and answer questions.
Editor’s Note: CURE and Oncology Nursing News host a tweet chat every month with patients, survivors, oncology nurses and other health care professionals. Learn more here or by searching #CureConnect on Twitter.