Throughout my career in medicine, I have met countless cancer survivors who have been through an unimaginable experience involving treatments like chemotherapy, radiation or surgical procedures. They often tell me a similar story: after emerging on the other side of their treatments, instead of feeling confident in the next steps in their care, they were left to deal with the long-term effects on their own—frequently without a quarterback for their care or access to resources we know will help.
The relief of completing the treatments was quickly replaced with confusion and anxiety about how to approach the next phase of their care in our increasingly complex health care system. It should not be this way. The fragmented and limited care model that exists for cancer survivors needs to be reimagined. I have returned to this problem time and again as a clinician, watching this gap in our care model affect my patients and countless others in our health care system.
This problem is becoming more acute and for good reason: as the treatments for cancer continue to improve, there will be more and more cancer survivors. In 2022, there were an estimated 18 million cancer survivors in the United States, a population expected to grow to 26 million by 2040. As the number of cancer survivors continues to increase, we need to develop a reinvented care model that can adequately care for people throughout the spectrum of cancer survivorship.
A little about me:
My name is Justin Grischkan and I am a physician. I trained in internal medicine and spent time in the inpatient and outpatient settings diagnosing patients, providing medical treatments, and coordinating care. I have also worked across the spectrum of health care innovation and health policy research, developing clinical programs to improve outcomes and increase access to care. I continue to practice medicine, but after seeing all the systemic gaps that impacted my patients, I now spend a significant portion of my time working on ways to improve the healthcare system for the patients I care for, with a particular focus on cancer survivorship.
In 2022, I was fortunate to meet Hil Moss - the founder and CEO of VivorCare. After our first conversation it was clear: we needed to work together to change the status quo of cancer survivorship. I am thrilled to announce that I have joined VivorCare as Co-Founder and Clinical Lead and along with an incredible team of clinicians, cancer survivors, and clinician-survivors, we are building a comprehensive, whole-person care model for cancer survivorship. VivorCare will be announcing our first pilot in early 2023, a program focused on transitioning patients from active cancer treatment to the post-treatment survivorship phase.
What is at stake:
The data is clear: cancer survivors are at higher risk for several conditions after their treatment including psychological distress, cardiovascular disease, and treatment-related side effects like peripheral neuropathy and fatigue. We are building a care model with cancer survivors at the center and forming a multidisciplinary team around them to help treat, manage, and prevent the issues that may arise. And we are focused on helping cancer survivors that are seeking care in a medical system that is falling short. So, when I think about what is at stake, I think about some of the patients I have treated: cancer survivors who had difficulty accessing mental health professionals, who felt isolated, and who needed more than a 20-minute visit and referrals with several-month wait times. I think about the incredible cancer survivors I have met while helping to build VivorCare. And I think about a future where there is unlimited access to comprehensive, world class survivorship care.
Want to hear more about what we are building? If so, please reach out!