The National University Cancer Institute, Singapore (NCIS) has partnered with local A.I. (artificial intelligence) health technology start-up Bot MD to launch a chemotherapy and cancer treatment cost calculator that will assist in the estimation of treatment costs and improve financial counselling for patients.
The NCIS Chemotherapy Cost Calculator (ChemoCalc) enables frontline healthcare professionals to instantly estimate the monthly out-of-pocket expenses for patients based on their prescribed cancer treatment, residency status, means-testing tier and eligibility for various government subsidy schemes. Schemes loaded onto the calculator include the Ministry of Health’s Cancer Drug List, drug subsidy schemes (the Medication Assistance Fund and the standard drugs list), Pioneer and Merdeka Generation schemes and subsidies for outpatient specialist services. The calculator will be continually updated in tandem with national revisions and institutional price revisions to ensure that the estimated costs align with the actual costs patients can expect to pay.
The calculator enables staff to instantly estimate out-of-pocket costs to patients based on inputs which are easily accessible from healthcare systems. It was co-developed by frontline staff at NCIS, comprising a team of pharmacists, patient service associates, ground operations staff, medical social workers and doctors working with the Bot MD team. This ensured a user interface that is intuitive and simple.
The Ministry of Health (MOH)announced in August last year changes to the MediShield Life (MSHL) reimbursement model which will only cover a positive list of clinically proven and cost-effective cancer drug treatments. Each drug now has patient, indication and combination specific limits to reimbursement, with a separate limit for other non-drug costs incurred for cancer treatment(collectively known as cancer services).
Most cancer treatments are administered in combination with other drugs at patient-specific doses, which can make financial counselling challenging, as manual calculations are required to estimate the cost of cancer treatment. In line with the new MOH policy, out-of-pocket costs for patients will also need to factor in drug and clinical indications to estimate their eligible subsidies and claims.
The NCIS ChemoCalc can be customised to meet the specific needs of various healthcare institutions based on how they procure and administer cancer treatments. It is built with a proprietary algorithm that helps to optimise the cost of treatment. This is done by finding the most cost-effective combination of drug strengths to make up a patient-specific dose, and by highlighting to healthcare staff when a generic or biosimilar alternative is available.
To use the NCIS ChemoCalc, users would need to enter information such as a patient’s chemotherapy regimen, height and weight, and select options from simple dropdown menus that include the patient’s residency status, monthly household income and subsidy status. The NCIS ChemoCalc will then compute the estimated out-of-pocket monthly expenditure for the patient. It will also display a detailed itemisation of the drugs and services relevant to the treatment that the patient is receiving, making it easier for users to submit claims for patients.A summary can be downloaded and printed for patients to take home.
NCIS and Bot MD hope to make the ChemoCalc available to all cancer and non-cancer patients in public and private healthcare institutions.
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The NCIS ChemoCalc instantly calculates out-of-pocket costs for cancer patientsDOWNLOAD
The NCIS ChemoCalc mobile interface allows users to estimate patient costs.DOWNLOAD
Bot MD is a Y-Combinator backed startup with the mission of Empowering Doctors around the world. The company’s proprietary A.I. chat engine is able to integrate with hospital information systems to provide instant answers to doctor and patient queries. Bot MD can also power popular messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber and LINE to help doctors easily automate patient workflows. Since 2018, Bot MD has been used by over 18,000 clinicians from leading hospitals and clinics around the world including the National University Health System, the National University Cancer Institute, Singapore, Alexandra Hospital, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, Changi General Hospital, Parkway Radiology, the National Kidney Transplant Institute and Siloam Hospitals. For more information, visit www.botmd.com
The National University Cancer Institute, Singapore (NCIS) offers a broad spectrum of cancer care and management covering both paediatric and adult cancers, with expertise in prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care. The Institute’s strength lies in the multi-disciplinary approach taken to develop a comprehensive and personalised plan for each cancer patient and his or her family. Our award-winning clinician-scientists and clinician-investigators conduct translational research and clinical trials, providing patients with access to evidence-based cancer diagnostics, technology and therapies. For more information about NCIS, please visit www.ncis.com.sg.