CanSurround: cancer, emotional health and technology

Liza Bernstein
Meg Maley


There is needless psychosocial distress in the cancer experience.

Per the US Institute of Medicine's "Cancer Care for the Whole Patient" report (2008), attention to patients' psychosocial needs is the exception in cancer care today. Our experience bears this out. Many cancer survivors and caregivers expect distress as an inherent part of their cancer story and are reluctant to seek help. According to the IOM, the results of this untreated distress are poor health care outcomes, poorer quality of life, and reduced survival time.

CanSurround is an exceptionally personalized web/mobile experience for individuals living with cancer. Through a trusted relationship with every user, CanSurround helps anyone affected by cancer (patients/loved ones) build resilience, gain confidence, better navigate the cancer experience, and let go of some of their fear and worry. Our users’ peace is our purpose.

CanSurround intentionally sits at the intersection of health care, technology and entertainment, giving us an opportunity to reach, engage and help people in a radically new way. Our one size does not fit all, featureset allows users to create "Your CanSurround, one of a kind, just for you". Our team is creating and curating helpful, emotionally focused information, inspiration, proven tools and exercises and experiences including:

  • Dynamic self-advocacy checklists and trackers
  • Multimedia, interactive journal/scrapbook
  • Stress reduction techniques
  • innovative social support via a proprietary networt

CanSurround is available 24/7, personalized, confidential and scalable to millions.

For professionals, CanSurround can provide assessment and intervention for patients who need emotional support, extend the reach of current mental health staff by engaging patients in between intersections with the health care system. 

CanSurround is a public benefits corporation. Our revenue model is:

  • free to patients, caregivers
  • “freemium” features for cancer centers and other providers
  • next...aggregated, analyzed and currently unavailable “patient reported” data
  • ultimately...outcomes driven economics paid for by those at financial risk

Our team understands this space both clinically and technically as we have interacted with cancer patients, caregivers, cancer centers and payers through a collective 40 years of cancer care delivery in the inpatient, home health, outpatient physical rehabilitation and non-profit settings. Additionally we have engaged an ePatient advisor (Liza Bernstein) who has been representing the patient voice in early development (this is unusual because often patients are brought in to validate content and design after development). We plan to create an ePatient advisory board so patients co-create subsequent versions of the product. Rounding out our team are caregivers, nurses, social workers, psychologists, doctors, coders, gamers, musicians, writers, artists and poets, all of whom contribute to the user experience and content of our comprehensive emotional support solution.

Additionally, as the population of individuals affected by cancer continues to grow, so too has the sophistication and accessibility of everyday technology. Finally, in the US, the Commission on Cancer has added “distress screening and intervention” to its mandatory accreditation criteria for its cancer centers in 2015. This is ideal timing for CanSurround to serve as a cost effective and scalable solution

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