What happens when you take the framework of a customer relationship management tool like Salesforce and, instead of using it to maximize sales and hone marketing processes, you use it to improve the experiences of cancer patients throughout their treatment?
Well, you’d get a piece of software like Navigating Cancer, a Seattle-based startup that uses the CRM concept to help doctors manage interactions with patients and optimize their care. The company calls it a “patient relationship management” platform, and it just raised $12 million in funding to scale out its team and invest in data analytics capabilities.
The news comes just after the company announced a collaboration with healthcare giant McKesson, which will use Navigating Cancer’s platform alongside other software tools built for oncology care.
In an interview with Built In Seattle, CEO Bill Bunker said the company facilitates communication in three ways: through a web portal for patients to retrieve information about their treatment, a mobile app for patients to report to doctors on how they're faring and a tool connecting patients with nurses in the event of an emergency.
“Our business is a blend of workflow software for practice, big data and data analytics, and also oncology-specific content,” Bunker said. “Patients use it to indicate whether they’re taking their medications, what symptoms they’re experiencing and with what intensity. Basically, it allows the practice to understand what’s happening with their patients every day of the week — not just when they show up for a doctor’s visit.”
Bunker, who joined as CEO last September, said the company will use the funding to scale out its team — which will double in the coming year to around 100 employees — and invest in its technology.
We’re creating a bigger database that... can help as people start to understand what changes are necessary on a more global level.”
“The biggest place where we’re hiring is on the development front,” he said. “We’re building out a development team to progress our mobile solutions, and expand our data analytics capabilities and our ability to leverage data to improve the care process.”
“There’s some very interesting work we’re doing around data analytics and how you deal with longitudinal datasets to understand cancer care experiences.”
Navigating Cancer collects data throughout a patient’s care experience — symptoms, the medications they’re taking, whether they’re sticking with them, and so on. While the tool is built to help individual patients from an operational perspective, Bunker sees an opportunity to enhance cancer treatment regimens on a wider scale.
“We’re creating a bigger database that can be used in the industry to understand what’s happening with care,” he said, “and can help as people start to understand what changes are necessary on a more global level — not just at the individual patient level.”
Founder Gena Cook, who now serves as Navigating Cancer’s president, started the company with a mission to maintain a workforce that was roughly split equally between the genders, and Bunker has vowed to continue that balance. The CEO said he was looking for people who want to make a difference with their work, and highlighted Navigating Cancer’s flat structure and collaborative culture.
“What comes with that is that you need people who are very self-motivated, and not people who you actively need to manage,” he said. “We look for people who embrace change and actually want to innovate.”
Existing investors led the round, including Merck Global Health Innovation Fund, Rustic Canyon Partners and Orix Growth Capital.