Medical Technology

Tata Trusts Announces Navya Expert System for Cancer Patients


Expert oncologists with the will to empower every cancer patient join forces with Tata Trusts to offer evidence and experience based expert opinions using the Navya Expert System

At a time when technology startups are offering cursory second opinion services or simple apps to buy medical services, collecting as much patient data as possible to use in unspecified ways in the future; Tata Trusts is focused on maximizing health outcomes in cancer care, empowering each patient individually.

Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata focused on people. He built townships, announcementindustries, the nation, by using every innovation to improve the lives of its people. Every project, every method, every idea touched a human life. People were the centerpiece of all innovation – big and small. And healthcare was accessible to all.

In today’s era of technological innovation, Tata Trusts is using technology – with a human touch – to level the information disparity in cancer care. Said Mrinalini Pandit, who leads cancer-related projects at Tata Trusts “It is estimated that there are around 1500 oncologists in India serving an affected population of approximately 24 lakhs, i.e. 1 oncologist for every 1600 cancer patients. Expert oncologists are even fewer, likely only a few hundred. This puts pressure on the system and many of those afflicted are unable to obtain timely access to an expert oncologist’s opinion. It is towards this objective, that Tata Trusts have initiated a service that provides online access to the tremendous experience of cancer experts at Tata Memorial Centre thereby possibly changing the outcome of these patients.”

Expertise to make such treatment decisions, naturally limited to the few oncologists in metro cities, is derived from evidence (results of a growing number of practice changing clinical trials) and experience (treating thousands of patients with complex and unique clinical circumstances).

“A technology expert system using predictive data analytics, and learning from select experts at top notch cancer centers, in conjunction with a bullish patient focused service – can make cancer expertise quickly available to cancer patients anywhere.” said Gitika Srivastava, a computer science graduate from Harvard who founded Navya with the mission to empower patients with clarity of informed decisions.

In a visionary undertaking, Tata Trusts has scaled access to expertise of Tata Memorial Centre (TMC), one of Asia’s largest tertiary care expert cancer centers, to patients all across the Indian subcontinent. Using the Navya Expert System, TMC experts provide evidence based expert opinions – online. The service is free for Below Poverty Line (BPL) card holders. Others pay a subsidized processing fee.

Said Dr. Rajendra Badwe, Director, Tata Memorial Centre: “With case details as input – Navya searches on evidence, guidelines, and experience databases – and outputs treatment options applicable to a unique patient. TMC experts choose from or modify the output to create a final expert opinion. The process is exhaustive and quick. The resulting database of opinions is an excellent companion for online training. In validation trials at TMC and UCLA-Olive View Medical Center, Navya was 98% concordant with multidisciplinary tumor board experts in two large international settings. Navya captures the way experts think and outputs treatment options for each patient in line with what they would recommend. This is how we can scale access to expertise.”

Patients simply upload their medical reports and decision questions at Patient Advocates help collate the necessary reports as per the decision criteria of TMC experts and the Navya system. They handhold the patient, understand their constraints and preferences, and ultimately transcribe the expert opinion in a report that is easily understood by the patient. Great care, attention to detail, clarity in use of words and definitions, is the hallmark of the painstakingly written report, customized to a patient’s list of questions. This rounds-off the use of technology – that analyzes patient-specific data to output a treatment decision, with experts – who extend their expertise online, to patients – who can ultimately consume the benefits, understand their treatment options, make an informed decision with their treating oncologist, and undertake the treatment that will likely maximize outcome.
Over 1700 opinions have been provided to patients from over 20 countries: Patients from remote townships in Madhya Pradesh to a tea vendor in Pune to BPL card holders from Northeast India, who no longer need to travel to Mumbai; to patients from Africa, Middle East; and East Asia. Treating oncologists from Delhi have used the service for referral opinion, and oncologists from well-known cancer centers in Bangalore are pleased to receive the expert opinion report that confirms their treatment plan and provides added clarity to their patients.

Patients are always advised to follow the treatment plan of their treating oncologists, who factor in the local circumstances, physical assessments, or intensive care management. However, the Navya system and TMC experts empower the patients and the treating oncologists to make an informed decision. True to the touch of Tata Trusts, the razor sharp focus remains on the individual: to deliver careful, considerate guidance to each patient, while using technology to scale access to expertise to millions.

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