Digital Reasoning’s AI Helps Healthcare Providers Avoid Post-COVID Wave of Preventable Cancer Deaths

Friday, 01. May 2020 14:15

NASHVILLE, Tenn., May 01, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Governments, healthcare providers, and others are taking extraordinary measures worldwide to contain and treat COVID-19. However, as an unintended consequence, cancer patients are delaying screenings and treatments, which is creating the potential for a massive wave of preventable cancer deaths. Digital Reasoning, a global leader in deploying Artificial Intelligence solutions for some of the world’s toughest problems, is working with nearly 200 hospitals and cancer centers throughout the U.S. to help identify cancer patients faster so they can be treated sooner.

An American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) survey reports that:

  • 50% of cancer patients had a change, delay or disruption to their current cancer treatment
  • 24% of cancer patients had a delay in treatment
  • 13% have not yet had their treatment rescheduled

“Now, more than at any time in modern history, providers are facing a crush on critical healthcare resources,” said Chris Cashwell, Senior Vice President of Healthcare Solutions at Digital Reasoning. “One of the potential consequences is a post-COVID-19 wave of preventable deaths from cancer. Screenings postponements, primary care appointments cancellations, and biopsy delays will lead to a backlog of cancer diagnoses and a rush to treat patients. Our technology can help health systems identify, track, and process cancer patients faster and more accurately and efficiently.”

Based on the ACS CAN survey, 2020 Cancer Statistics by the American Cancer Society, and current research on the time to treatment initiation, Digital Reasoning researchers and data scientists assessed the potential increase in mortality risk for cancer patients diagnosed in 2020 due to COVID-19.   

Currently, an estimated 47,000 cancer patients have already been negatively impacted by treatment delays. Delayed time-to-treatment initiation (TTI) increases the absolute risk of mortality from 1.2-3.2% per week for curative cancers such as early-stage breast and lung cancer (Khorana et al. 2019)1. If delays continue through the remainder of 2020, cancer deaths could increase by as many as 50,240.

Digital Reasoning’s AI healthcare solution:

  • Quickly identifies higher-risk patients so doctors and nurses can prioritize those who need care most
  • Helps identify immuno-compromised patients sooner to help prevent unnecessary exposure to COVID-19
  • Streamlines cancer care workflows in real-time by identifying, triaging, and prioritizing cases
  • Reduces time-to-contact patients to within 24 hours of diagnosis

“Health systems will not only be under tremendous pressure to treat those who have delayed their diagnosis, but they will also be under tremendous financial pressure to retain and improve patient volume from the lockdown phase,” said Cashwell. “Our technology allows hospitals to identify and reach patients sooner and retain them in their system to improve volume. It is critical that hospitals be financially healthy to keep their patients healthy as well.”

Digital Reasoning was recently recognized by Fast Company’s World Changing Idea Award for using AI to accelerate patient care.

To learn more or schedule a demo of our AI-powered healthcare solutions, visit us here.

About Digital Reasoning
Digital Reasoning is a global leader in understanding human communications and behavior through the combination of applied AI, deep collaboration with industry experts, and a commitment to use technology for positive change. Through the combination of our trusted technology and our customers’ experience, for example, patients have a better chance of surviving, banks can ensure their employees are meeting the highest standards of conduct, and law enforcement can protect the most vulnerable citizens in our society.  For more information, go to and follow on Twitter at @dreasoning.

1 Khorana AA, Tullio K, Elson P, et al. Time to initial cancer treatment in the United States and association with survival over time: An observational study. PLoS One 2019;14:e0213209. 10.1371/journal.pone.0213209

Digital Reasoning
Jason Beck

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at

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Cancer Can't Wait. Not even for COVID-19.

Cancer deaths could increase by 50,000 in 2020.
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