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Physical activity platform to improve bone health in cancer survivors

After cancer treatment, survivors need a scalable, digital support platform to address poor bone health, reduced muscle mass and balance.

Photo of Cathy Skinner
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What challenges or opportunities are you trying to address within the problem? (200 characters or less)

50% of cancer survivors have some level of impaired bone health. By providing bone health exercises and nutrition through an interactive, digital platform, we empower patients to own their recovery.

Even if you never exercised prior to cancer, there is ample evidence to show that engaging in exercise (during or after treatment) will reduce the recurrence of secondary cancer for breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer (Katie Schmitz, Penn State, 2019). Additionally, Eexercise is not only safe during and after cancer treatment, studies have found that physical training can bring improvements in bone health, daily functioning and quality of life while reducing symptoms such as cancer-related fatigue (Kerri Winters-Stone, OHSU, 2010).

This is a phenomenal health intervention that improves balance and fall risk and reduces other healthcare costs. The Thrivors goal is to ensure that cancer survivors get moving, eat better and live longer at lower costs to the healthcare system. We want survivors to live their best lives.

Thrivors proven cancer-specific mind-body-emotion solution provides patients: 1) effective side effect management; 2) improved function (physical, mental and emotional); and 3) improved outcomes from falls and fracture risk.  This will emerge into an evidence based digital therapeutics platform. 

For providers and payers we offer: 1) improved outcomes; and 2) data analytics and insight into patient behaviors. We measure at-home patient behavior that impacts bone health and answers the questions: what is working and why;  and, 3) a longer term opportunity as a digital therapeutic that reduces the likelihood of bone health decline and the recurrence of secondary cancers.     

For insurers, employers and entities that take on risk, Thrivors can also reduce the cost of absenteeism, ongoing healthcare utilization and reduced productivity.

Thrivors offers a cancer wellness and coaching solution that delivers results and reduces costs. No other competitors focus on cancer wellness coaching and its importance on bone health. The aim is to improve clinical outcomes (medication use and survival rates) and lifestyle (exercise, nutrition, meditation) adherence while better understanding barriers to positive compliance and health behaviors (pain, energy, mood). Success with prescribed intervention and lifestyle adherence will dramatically improve physical function, outcomes and quality of life.

Who is your target end user and why will they be interested? (650 characters or less)

For insurers, employers and entities that take on risk, Thrivors can reduce the cost of absenteeism, ongoing healthcare utilization and reduced productivity due to bone health issues. For pharmaceutical manufacturers we offer: 1) a short-term increased revenue through engagement and drug adherence. Premature drug abandonment (33% average in US oncology) leads to worse outcomes for patients and annual lost revenue ($17 B) for pharma; 2) data analytics and insight into patient behaviors. We measure at-home patient behavior that impacts drug persistency and answers the questions: what is working and why; and, 3) a longer term opportunity as a digital therapeutic that reduces the likelihood of falls and fractures as well as the recurrence of secondary cancers.

How is your idea scaleable? (650 characters or less)

Thrivors is a digital health platform that: * Delivers a real-time exercise program to a survivor based on his or her fatigue, pain, energy, and secondary conditions (i.e., neuropathy and lymphedema) * Tracks symptoms and emotions that provide predictive analytics for healthcare * Connects the survivor through support, education, and encouragement to a community on the same path to well-being * Includes limited live person telephone support to drive deeper engagement and improved personalization * Measures activities and variable health status over time and documents their experience for the survivor to share with their healthcare providers and home care support service * Provides nutritional direction that aligns with best practices for maintaining energy, bone health, and a healthy weight for cancer survivors * Offers community-based resources in the city/region of the survivor * Leads the participant through mindfulness practice to mitigate stress * Serves family members

What do/will you measure to know if your solution worked? (500 characters or less)

In our current NCI funded clinical trial (, we are seeing measurable results: * 60 eligible women enrolled in the 20 week RCT intervention * Participant utilization of the the Thrivors platform that averages 15 to 20 minutes per user visit in the bone health exercise module * Average logins to platform of 2 times per week * Surveys at the beginning and the end that measure: 1) well-being (SF 36v); patient activation (Patient Activation Measure or PAM score); and bone health education awareness.

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Early Adoption: We have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the intended users of the idea. I have proof of user uptake (i.e. 16% to 49% of the target population or 1,000 to 50,000 users).

If you were to become a Top Idea, would you want to actively participate in piloting your idea?

  • I want my idea piloted, and I prefer to do my own piloting in collaboration with the health system and with assistance from the Challenge partner

Company / Organization Name, if applicable (140 characters or less)

Thrivors Inc

Website (if applicable)

Tell us about yourself or your team (500 characters or less)

LEADERSHIP and FOUNDERS Cathy Skinner, CEO and Co-founder - Nationally recognized certified cancer exercise specialist with 8 years of working face-to-face with 400 cancer patients providing wellness services. Eric Hoffman, CTO and Co-Founder - Nationally recognized expert with 15 yrs of building complex technology platforms in Government such as Homeland Security, FDA, the World Bank and United Nations. OTHER TEAM MEMBERS Shahir Salyani, Chief Business Officer - Arvind Raghavan, Chief Science Officer - Dr. Deborah Nowak, Chief Medical Officer - Mark Carlson, Behavioral Science Advisor - John Emerson, Special Advisor -

Location (50 characters)

Saint Paul, MN, USA

What is your legal / organizational structure?

  • We are a For-Profit Startup or Startup Social Enterprise

Innovator/Organizational Characteristics

  • Female-led organization

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • Someone in my network (word of mouth)

Why are you participating in this Challenge?

This approach to collaboration is intriguing. We are eager to see if we can go faster together!


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