Hepatitis C Care Team Finds Help from Local Athens Technology Start Up – Vitamin C
One of the emerging topics in health care is how to responsibly and effectively treat uninsured and underinsured patients who have contracted Hepatitis C. While pharmaceutical innovations from drug companies, like Gilead, have dramatically improved treatment outcomes, there are still limited treatment options for our low-income neighbors who are infected with this disease.
According to the CDC, “Chronic Hepatitis C virus infection is a long-term illness that occurs when the Hepatitis C virus remains in a person’s body. It is the leading cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation in the United States. An estimated 3.2 million persons in the United States have chronic Hepatitis C virus infection. Most people do not know they are infected because they don’t look or feel sick.”
Since the creation of an inter-professional Hepatitis C Care Team at Mercy Health Center, thirteen patients have completed the treatment process. Only two out of the thirteen patients were not cured. This is an enormous success considering how difficult the treatment process is on both the patient and the care team. Mercy’s care team is led by volunteer pharmacists, Brian Seagraves. Seagraves is employed by Pharmaceutical Specialties Inc. Other team members include: volunteer gastroenterologist, Dr. Greg Smith; Mercy Nursing Manager, Lindsay Rossetti; volunteer pharmacist, Catherine Bourg; volunteer pharmacist, Lindsay McCoy; volunteer counselor, Doug Bower; LCSW, Rob Lomax; social services intern, Audry Motlagh. Medication is accessed through a prescription assistance program.
Recently, a local Athens technology startup, Vitamin C, has joined Mercy in helping to meet the need by providing access to their software program at a greatly reduced price. Vitamin C revolves around the creation of behavioral careplans. These careplans include action items and reminders for patients as well as notifications and decision support for providers. The company has designed a state-of-the-art support system for Mercy’s Hepatitis C Care Team who will use it to prepare patients for the treatment process, communicate with and support patients during treatment, and evaluate the program’s success.
The software is expected to be used to facilitate the treatment of Mercy’s next cohort of Hepatitis C patients within the coming months. Assistant Director, Grace Johnson hopes that by using Vitamin C’s software, Mercy’s process for treating patients with Hepatitis C will be streamlined. “This [Vitamin C] will enable us to increase the number of patients who are treated concurrently, effectively, and efficiently. Our goal is to eradicate the disease from our patient population, drastically reducing the burden of disease and healthcare costs associated with liver failure among the low-income, uninsured.”
It is incredible to imagine what the future holds! Mercy is truly blessed to have the collaboration and support of medical providers in the community, pharmacy assistance programs, and now local company – Vitamin C. For more information about Vitamin C, visit their website: getvitaminc.com