New app a ‘gold standard resource’ for cancer patients

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A team of Sydney-based clinicians has unveiled a new smartphone application that aims to simplify the lives of people with cancer by providing personalised care information.

Aptly named CancerAid, the app is a comprehensive telecommunication service that helps patients to access relevant information after being diagnosed, including details of their disease, treatment options and possible side effects.

The app’s founder, Dr Nikhil Pooviah of Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, said the shock of being told they have cancer can result in a patient leaving their first consultation disoriented and overwhelmed.

He said until now, there hadn’t been a “gold standard resource” to give patients when they were diagnosed with cancer, but said CancerAid was the solution to such “deficiencies in cancer care”.

“CancerAid will ensure patients go home with the information they need to help improve their understanding and avoid confusion and anxiety,” he said.

“It allows patients to go home and digest that information at their own pace.”

Dr Pooviah and his team, which includes co-founders Dr Raghav Murali-Ganesh (Chris O’Brien Lifehouse) and Dr Akshat Saxena (Liverpool Hospital), undertook research to identify what issues patients wanted the app to address.

Its features include medication and symptom management tools as well as visual care pathways to help patients know what to expect. It also offers 24/7 on-call medical and psychological support.

“Along with my team, I believed we had the creativity and experience with technology to design a digital solution to improve issues that we as cancer specialists see day to day at work,” Dr Pooviah said.

Chris O’Brien Lifehouse is the first facility to use the app and it is already gaining strong traction elsewhere, with more doctors and hospitals offering support.

It’s also garnering praise online. Carol Connolly, whose husband is a patient at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, said it was a wonderful innovation.

“I remember when my husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer. We had to Google information, which was very general. It wasn’t until we went to Lifehouse that we received all the info and understood it,” Mrs Connolly wrote on the facility’s Facebook page.

Dr Pooviah said the team was looking forward to running the prototype with at least 1,000 patients leading up to its official launch mid-year.

“Instead of helping one patient, we now have the opportunity to help millions,” he said.

Health sector not immune to digital revolution

CancerAid joins a long list of health-related smartphone apps available in Australia and overseas.

Ramsay Health Care recently announced its MyPatient+ app, which provides clinicians with real-time patient information.

Experts say CancerAid’s arrival is further proof that there is a growing culture of doctors looking to pursue digital solutions in the healthcare sector.

Dr Martin Seneviratne from the Health Informatics Society of Australia is calling it the “tech disruption” and he believes the product’s founders are now part of the growing cohort responsible for bringing it to Australia’s hospitals.

“More and more young doctors are developing their own software solutions to improve hospital workflows and streamline the patient’s experience,” Dr Seneviratne said.

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