This past April, Astellas Oncology launched the C3 Prize, a challenge aimed at inspiring novel, non-treatment and non-medicine based ideas to change cancer care. The judges included Mark Reisenauer, SVP of the Oncology Business Unit for Astellas Pharma US; Robert Herjavec, IT Entrepreneur, Founder & CEO of the Herjavec Group and star of ABC’s “Shark Tank”; Chris Coburn, Vice President of Innovation at Partners HealthCare and host of the World Medical Innovation Forum; and Michael Seres, who is ePatient-in-Residence and Executive Board Member for Stanford Medicine X. Five finalists pitched at the conference:
Judge Mark Reisenauer is particularly proud of the Astellas C3 Prize. “Patients working with physicians is both an art and a science,” he said of the challenge. “There is a balance of hope with the balance of reality, and it’s so hard to do.”
A veteran oncology commercial leader, Reisenauer is responsible for all U.S. commercial activities supporting marketed products and Astellas Pharma’s oncology co-promotion partners. He experienced caregiving first-hand with his father whom he recently lost to cancer.
“With what recently happened with my father, and the journey as a caregiver, as close to the disease as I am, it showed me I was not as prepared as I thought,” he explained of his experience. “Going through all of those things gave me an appreciation for the difficulty, not just for the patient, the one stakeholder we did not spend enough time on was the caregiver. We really didn’t address that.”
Reisenauer believes that there are many caregiver needs that could addressed with technology enabled solutions–from coordinating meals and transportation to coordinating scheduling with oncologists.
“Where are the tools if you are a caregiver?” asked Reisenauer. “I’m fortunate because I am in the industry. When it comes to resources, I know where to go, but when I lived it I had a new appreciation for resources that I wish existed.”
Reisenauer said that when Astellas first built their team, they wondered what they could do beyond their therapies to help cancer patients to help them focus on living.
“We asked ‘Are there big initiatives where we can address this need?’ And that’s how the C3 Prize was launched. It was a great idea, and includes the simplicity of the best ideas coming from those who live with it. It totally exceeded my expectations of what I thought was possible.”
The grand prize winner of the C3 Prize will be announced in October at the 2016 ESMO Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Robert Schultz has an MBA in Information Systems from University of Massachusetts-Boston and a BS in International Business from Northeastern University, where he served as Business Manager for the university’s largest student publication, The Northeastern News. Schultz is an experienced healthcare technology startup enthusiast who was involved with the patient monitoring company Aware Engineering through the MassBio MassCONNECT program.
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