‘Chasing the Cure’ looks to help heal medical ills

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Dealing with a medical issue not only can be a nightmare when it comes to a person’s health, but can be made even more of a challenge by a lack of insurance or not being able to find anyone who can identify the problem. TNT and TBS are looking to provide a little help. 

“Chasing the Cure,” airing at 9 p.m. Thursdays, turns to the reach of live television combined with social media and digital connections to examine medical situations. The weekly 90-minute show is an attempt to help people suffering from undiagnosed, misdiagnosed or uncured medical mysteries. The series is simulcast on TNT and TBS.

“We’re focusing on people in need and we’re connecting with doctors who are highly trained and, also, with anyone, actually, who may know something that might help them,” says executive producer and anchor Ann Curry.

The idea for the series was inspired by Facebook posts by people looking for help because they needed to fund their health care. Curry describes what she saw online as “a wound” created by living in a country with first-rate medical facilities and practitioners but a lack of access, either financially or geographically.

The new cable series aims to make that information available on a global scale. Looking at the medical situations is the Chasing the Cure Ethics team, which consists of a chief medical ethicist, social worker, psychologist and legal representative of the show. There will also be times when the show will turn to top medical hospitals and institutions around the country for input and assistance.

“On the set there is going to be a center with all this technology. And there a doctor will be standing by in addition with a number of other people who will be basically receiving all this data from people who are calling in, emailing in, coming in through our website, through social media, through hashtags, and bringing up data,” Curry says. “They’re people who have similar symptoms. They’re people who know somebody who has similar symptoms. They may be medical professionals.

“I’ll get that data and once it’s gone through a doctor, then I’ll decide whether that data is going to be shared. And then if it feels responsible or can be attributed and it’s good data, then we can share it and discuss, talk about that data with the doctors.”

It’s not just patients who are frustrated with the medical world. Producers of “Chasing the Cure” have been hearing from doctors who were already engaged with and working with a patient but because of demands did not have enough time to be with their patients or to collaborate with others in the medical field. The program will provide more and longer access for both patients and doctors.

“Chasing the Cure” will originate in Los Angeles, and that means a lot of the patients featured will be miles away from the central band of doctors. The main push will be for the patients to continue working with their primary care physician, but part of the process will be to help them find a doctor in their hometown if they need one or be directed to a specialist.

This is all working because “Chasing the Cure” is not designed to replace traditional ways patients and doctors interact. Curry stresses the program is not going to pay for all the medical bills for the patients. That’s just not feasible.

“But there are a lot of really good people out there. There are a lot of great medical institutions out there that will see these cases and they’ll want to help. And so some people, some of our patients, I’d say probably most of them, will get medical care that they probably can’t afford,” Curry says. “I’m just the patient advocate in this process, but the doctors who are on our project are not their doctors. Essentially what they’re getting is a panel of experts for a problem that they can’t resolve, and they can take their advice or not.

“We’re going to be broadcasting this nationally. But when those people go home, their local news operations will probably oftentimes want to continue those stories. We’ll continue to follow those cases on our website. So there are going to be ways for people to help them. The bottom line is that they’re going to come away, we hope, at least with some, with people who care.”

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