The Silicon Review
Advancement in digital health tech has created new methods to diagnose and treat patients. It can also provide novel ways to generate and process data, report outcomes and communicate with patients to help better care management. Such digital technology solutions are gaining immense traction in recent times, particularly for remote monitoring of patient symptoms and tele-medicine. Globally, many digital health companies are developing such remote and virtual technologies to bring more affordable and convenient care to more patients.
Apricity stands out from the pack in its focus on “helping the doctors help patients”. With its proprietary code-free augmented intelligence (AI) system, the ApricityOncology solution brings clinical best practices developed in hundreds of clinical trials from cancer centers to real world practices. It provides clinical decision support (CDS) based on real-time patient data and up-to-date knowledge to an extended oncology care team, from nurses to doctors, in the clinic or on the cloud, to better manage cancer patients on treatment.
An elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, Dr. Chin is renowned for her work in genomics science, studying the Achilles’ heel of cancer to identify the right targets for cancer drug development. She’s been at the forefront of the movement to apply technologies--especially AI (Dr. Chin likes to call it Augmented Intelligence, instead of Artificial), Machine Learning, and big data--to medicine. In addition to Dr. Chin, Apricity’s founding team includes Dr. James Allison, the Nobel-prize winning pioneer of immuno-oncology (IO), in addition to medical oncologists Dr. Padmanee Sharma, scientific director of the Immunotherapy Platform at MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Keith Flaherty, director of Clinical Research at Mass General’s Cancer Center. Throughout their careers, this brain trust of experts in cancer, genomics and immunology have contributed to an acceleration in scientific discovery of the molecular and genetic causes of cancers in ways that have changed cancer diagnoses and treatment. Now they join forces to bring the “ivory tower” care from cancer centers to the real world.
Advent and impact of Apricity’s solution
The market for new cancer drugs has skyrocketed: twice as many IO drugs have entered the development pipeline than there were three years ago, with a total of 4,720 agents in trials in 2020. Apricity’s founders recognized how the complexity and rapid pace of development of new cancer-fighting agents makes it nearly impossible for practicing oncologists and their teams of nurses to optimally incorporate new knowledge in everyday care of their patients on the front line. Optimal benefit from life-saving cancer treatment depends on prompt diagnosis and treatment of side effects so patients can stay on and complete their therapy regimens. However, recognizing the multitude of potential side effect signs and symptoms related to cancer drugs requires substantial clinical experience that is just not readily available, particularly for new drugs such as IO. Patients and their caregivers are unnecessarily burdened with anxiety because they struggle on their own to determine whether a symptom is of significant concern to warrant a phone call to the doctor, especially when it is late in the evening or on a holiday weekend. What is needed was a tool that would radically transform the way we care for cancer patients at their most vulnerable moments, one that leverages AI and technologies to bring subspecialists’ experience to general practice oncologists, extend their capacity to deliver expert care to patients even in between clinic visits, so that care is 24/7 personalized to the need of the patients.
ApricityOncology, an AI-powered digital care solution
The ApricityOncology solution has a custom-built mobile app designed for patients called ApricityCare. The ApricityCare app is the patient’s digital companion, connecting them to their cancer care team so they can be monitored anytime, anywhere. Here’s how it works: Every day-- or whenever there is a concern-- the patient logs into ApricityCare, answering questions to report any symptoms of concern. These questions are developed by subspecialty experts and tailored to specific cancer treatments. When the patient reports a relevant symptom, ApricityOncology will analyze that symptom in context of the patient’s clinical information from their electronic medical record and activate a nurse --not a chatbot-- to promptly assess their status. In addition to empowering the nurse with patient’s clinical information and best practice guidelines at their fingertips (as if they had years of experience taking care of patients on those particular drugs), ApricityOncology also transmits the information back to the patient’s oncologists, no matter how far away they may be, so they can trust that their care is always quarterbacked by their trusted oncologists.
While deceptively simple on the patient end, Apricity’s team of experts from cancer centers around the country developed and curated ApricityOncology’s AI knowledge models driving its clinical decision support (CDS) engine. These models not only capture up-to-date consensus guidelines, but also incorporate expert experiences, representing augmented clinical intelligence. While other remote monitoring systems may use chatbots to generate standardized responses based on the symptom reported, Apricity’s experts know that the same symptom can mean different things in cancer patients, and clinical expertise to understand the context is key to proper care. However, it is unrealistic to expect a clinical team to have uniform experience across the board, particularly when it comes to relatively new therapeutic regimens. Thus, acting as their expert assistant, ApricityOncology supports the entire team, from nurses to doctors, by sharing relevant experiences of the subspecialists as related to a specific patient’s case. The emphasis on intelligence augmentation, rather than response automation, reflects Apricity’s commitment to delivering high-quality but convenient and affordable care that is personalized to patients, as if they were being treated at a comprehensive cancer center, even as they lounge on the couch at home.
Although ApricityOncology is built on state of the art health tech, Dr. Chin emphasized that fundamentally, Apricity is not a tech company. “This is a company about democratizing clinical expertise from a small set of subspecialists to broader oncology care communities around the world,” she explained. “By shortening the learning curve and accelerating adoption of new treatments in practice, more patients can benefit from cutting-edge medicine faster.” She added, “In short, by addressing the shortage of expert care providers, we will lower the barriers for patients to access affordable expert subspecialty care, irrespective of their geographic or socioeconomic status.”
With ApricityCare, no matter where they are, patients and caregivers can enjoy the peace of mind knowing they are always looked after by an expert cancer care team. Oncologists can rest assured knowing that in ApricityOncology, the entire care team has a trusted frontline companion that actively monitors patients with a clinical decision support system trained by world class experts.
Recent developments at Apricity Health
Apricity has successfully completed its usability clinical trial of ApricityOncology in the heart of Silicon Valley, at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, CA, demonstrating the usability of this solution in a community practice (not at a cancer center where doctors, nurses and patients are used to clinical trials). Apricity is now spinning out Apricity Oncology and actively identifying select partners to grow this company as part of our Series A for Apricity Oncology.
Rising above the noise about AI, technologies and data, Apricity’s mission is simple and focused: the future of cancer medicine, and one day, the cure, all starts with the doctor knowing more about the patient and the disease, and the patient trusting their doctor to deliver the best care tailored to them. “ApricityOncology is the cancer expert in patients’ pockets and the expert assistant on providers’ shoulders.” said Dr. Chin. “To a cancer patient, their oncologist is their trusted healer. It’s a relationship that needs to be built and maintained”. Rather than displacing the oncologists, ApricityOncology is there to support the care team 24/7/365 to strengthen and nurture that trust by patients.
“Apricity Health is the creation of renowned physicians and scientists who are passionate about improving health for all people.”