"Financial toxicity" is the name attached to especially expensive drugs that bankrupt patients and destroy their families' finances. This "side effect" is so severe that it sometimes causes patients to stop taking a drug, even if the drug improves their health. Financial toxicity is potentially lethal, and can lead to premature death.
"Life-saving drugs and drugs that prevent disability have become significantly more expensive in recent years," says TailorMed founder and CEO Israel (Srulik) Dvorsky, who is attempting to remedy the situation. "The insurance companies and health funds roll far more than the cost onto the end consumer. This is a worldwide trend, but it is particularly prominent in the US. Barack Obama's health reform brought many more people into health insurance. In order to cope with this, insurance companies have raised their premiums and deductible amounts many times over."
Dvorsky says that the US payment system, in which patients do not even know how much they will eventually pay, makes it very difficult for them to compare prices for their entire treatment package.
Financially adapted treatment
TailorMed in effect gives patients online financial counseling. "There are options for alternative financing today for patients unable to meet the payments," Dvorksy says, such as accessibility programs of pharma companies, in which the companies are sometimes willing to pay the patients' share in order to obtain the share paid by the insurance company, and volunteer organizations and government programs that open and close, which must be monitored. It is sometimes possible to switch to a more worthwhile insurance policy after the patient becomes sick.
"Hospitals have begun employing financial advisers for their patients. Their job is above all to understand how much the treatment will cost, verify that the patient can afford it, and then refer the patient to other treatment options. This is all done manually, however, based on the consultant's knowledge, like former travel agents. Our system selects the optimal package accessible to the patient, finds the possible financing sources, and fills out the forms for him or her for submitting requests for alternative financing," Dvorsky explains. The system also fits in with human advisers, who examine the feasibility of the results and improve them.
According to Dvorsky, the system is technologically complex, because it also includes predictive options. "For example, if you have a background disease that increases the risk of complication in the planned surgery, it might be worthwhile for you to intervene in the background situation first. That might be more worthwhile," he says.
"Globes: Who pays for the systems
Dvorsky: "Payment is collected from the hospital. It's worthwhile for them, because we reduce their bad debts - the cases in which a person received the treatment, but is unable to pay for it. Hospitals are usually unable to throw out patients. They treat someone who is already there, leaving the question of debt until afterwards. 7-10% of the debts to the hospital are therefore bad debts. According to our experience so far, our system can reduce the extent of bad debts by a large percentage, amounting to thousands of dollars per patient."
Treatment of cancer first
TailorMed was founded only 18 months ago. It entered the Sanara Ventures incubator belonging to Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE: TEVA; TASE: TEVA) and Philips, and is now one of its most prominent companies. Dvorsky and CTO Adam Siton, the company founders, met in the technology units of the IDF intelligence corps, but Dvorsky has a decade of experience in stroke treatment company Brainsgate, where he was VP R&D for several years. "I also accompanied several relatives in their diseases, and that's the best way, or the worst way, to learn firsthand about the pain and the need in this area," he says. Among other things, Siton headed the mobile section in personal lists company Any.do.
TailorMed hopes to finish the year with commercial installation in 10 hospitals, mainly those that treat cancer. The company's system is now specifically adapted to cancer, but in the future, it will also provide a solution to treatment of other diseases.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on December 18, 2018
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