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How CancerIQ helps OSF HealthCare identify patients at high risk of breast cancer


A few years ago, OSF HealthCare was looking for a way to identify women who had a high risk of breast cancer. After looking at another potential solution, the Peoria, Illinois-based system found CancerIQ, a Chicago startup that enables an organization to run a cancer risk assessment program.

In a phone interview, CancerIQ co-founder and CEO Feyi Olopade explained her company’s approach: “What we do for health systems is help them streamline the evaluation process so they can provide better access to genetic counseling resources.” In addition to better identifying at-risk patients, the goal is to help systems improve the patient experience for genetic testing and increase preventive services revenue.

CancerIQ’s origin story involves Olopade, who previously worked as an investor and management consultant, teaming up with her mother Dr. Olufunmilayo (Funmi) Olopade, an oncologist and recipient of the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellowship. While on vacation, they got to know more about each other’s jobs, and the idea for CancerIQ was born.

The company is a Rock Health accelerator graduate and a former resident of Chicago-based healthcare incubator MATTER. But OSF was its first client, Olopade explained.

In 2015, OSF piloted CancerIQ’s solution. Through the tool, OSF patients take a brief survey that pinpoints those who are eligible for further genetic evaluation. CancerIQ then taught Michele Settelmyer, an advanced practice nurse at OSF, how to use its tool for genetic counseling and complete a deeper patient assessment. Patients who are identified as high risk are offered an appointment for additional testing and genetic counseling.

Both Olopade and OSF director of women’s services Cindy Martin noted that CancerIQ and OSF worked as a team to ensure the successful deployment of the solution.

“We worked together as a collaborative team and enhanced the tool to meet the needs of our patients,” Martin said in a phone interview. “CancerIQ really worked with us.”

Over the course of the two-year pilot at OSF, more than 20,000 women were screened and over 5,000 were identified as having a high hereditary risk for cancer.

Since the initial pilot, the Peoria health system has expanded its use of the tool to its Saint Francis Medical Center, where more than 14,000 patients have been screened and 3,300 were found to be at a high risk of cancer. Over 400 of those individuals met with a genetic specialist, and 25 tested positive for a genetic mutation that increases their chance of developing breast cancer.

OSF has also been able to leverage the assistance of Redox, a Madison, Wisconsin-based startup, to connect CancerIQ with its EMR.

Going forward, the health system hopes to scale its use of CancerIQ beyond its current scope, OSF director of innovation partnerships Rob Jennetten said in a phone interview.

For Olopade and her startup, the next goal is to continue to grow the team. Longer-term, CancerIQ wants to expand beyond cancer and help providers use information to predict other health issues like heart disease.

Photo: CancerIQ

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