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Act3 is a web/mobile tool that empowers people and families to make better health care decisions and access supportive care earlier.

Photo of Ellen Byrne
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Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine the end-of-life experience?

All people experiencing serious illness can live best by actively discussing: 1) ways to maximize quality of life, 2) expectations for the future and 3) plans for care interventions the patient wants or doesn't want. Then, they can demand supportive care and collaboration with doctors that achieves their goals. Act3 helps families by creating a personalized platform for education, inspiration, planning and communication. Act3 focuses on living as well as possible NOT dying as well as possible!

Studies show that two interventions are effective in improving the end-of-life experience, interactive and ongoing advanced care planning (ACP), and effective supportive/palliative care. Unfortunately, consumer demand for both of these solutions is low. The problem that we are solving: People experiencing serious illness and their family members often find it difficult to communicate well about the patient’s quality of life and expectations for the future. They also neglect making important plans about the health care interventions they want or don’t want while the patient is still well enough to do so. In aggregate, doctors have many disincentives for initiating discussions about these issues and don’t address the family’s needs well. This results in unnecessary medical crises which are a burden to patients and families, and unwanted or futile medical treatment that cost society tremendously.  Act3 will solve this problem with a web/mobile tool that empowers older, seriously-ill people and their families to make better health care decisions and access supportive care earlier.

Our website and mobile app will allow patients over age 65 and/or their loved ones to DISCOVER a specific concern or problem that they want to address; LEARN more about their problems and how to fix them, and ACT, with easy-to-follow guidance, on steps needed to solve the problems in conjunction with doctors, family, caregivers and other service providers. The tool will be customized by illness, self-reinforcing, and prompt the patient and family to stay active and engaged in maximizing quality of life, right up until the end of life.

Act3 will improve on current resources in the market because it has a family-based, active platform which includes push-notifications to prompt ongoing use; it will provide curated, high quality educational material and personalized conversation guides; it will engage people by addressing immediate needs, and it will empower the patient and family to proactively communicate with each other and with medical professionals. These unique features should improve adoption rates which are low with other websites and programs.

The market for Act3 is large and growing with the aging of the Baby-boomers.  There are 40.5 Million patients over 65 who live with a serious illness and millions more of their family members who can benefit from using the service. Recent health policy reforms are moving toward paying healthcare providers for the value of the care, rather than the volume. We anticipate health systems and Medicare insurance plans will pay a subscription fee to provide Act3 to families. Payors will buy into Act3 as a tool to enhance value and enable patient engagement, two major goals of health reform. Seriously ill people require a great deal of supportive care services. Act3 will include a marketplace of local product and service providers who benefit from the opportunity to link consumers to their businesses.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Research shows that patients with a poor cancer prognosis often do not understand their diagnosis/prognosis, have unrealistic expectations of treatment options, rarely discuss ACP with their doctors or have ACP documents in their medical record, and typically not received a referral for palliative care as recommended by national medical standards. We could test a beta version of Act3 in a randomly controlled fashion at a local cancer center to see if these outcomes change.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

We do not necessarily want to recreate existing tools, we want to improve pull-through from consumers. Therefore, we want to find partners who wish to share already developed great material. We also need providers and organizations who want to help design Act3 and deliver it to consumers. We need technical advice to create the platform and ensure that it works for stakeholders. Finally, we want to connect with all stakeholders to understand their experiences and pain points as we build out Act3.

Tell us about your work experience:

Our multidisciplinary team has collective past experience: manager, trainer, sales person in pharmaceutical industry; writer for network TV news; financial consultant for leading firm, and healthcare administrator for major city hospital. Our passion results from personal loss and experiences.

This idea emerged from

  • A student collaboration

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Photo of Jason Boberg

Interesting concept Ellen!
Is the friction point you are addressing, lack of information about heath care options for patients over 65?