A mobile app to support breast cancer patients in healthcare and self-management in Kent

Mobile apps have great potential to support cancer patients in healthcare and self-management. They can be used to provide patients with instant access to reliable information and help them to be guided through their treatment at a time convenient for them.

Situation

Newly-diagnosed cancer patients often find themselves overwhelmed with leaflets and information sheets and struggle to retain details from their clinic consultations. While there is a wealth of information available on the internet, many patients avoid searching the web for fear of reading information they do not understand or stumbling across sources that may not be accurate.

Aspiration

To help breast cancer patients with their understanding of diagnostic tests and treatment at local breast units by providing them with timely information about their condition. Clinical and practical patient information is communicated through push notifications at the time the information is most relevant to patients.

Solution and impact

In 2018, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (MTW) launched the Breast Cancer Kent Patient app for their breast cancer patients. The MTW consultants designed the treatment journeys on the platform provided by Patient Journey App.

The app provides information about diagnosis and treatment and includes service signposting (MTW contact information), links to local and national services, and support groups. It also has the ability to provide alerts or notifications (such as reminders about treatment) and access to social networks (for example, patients can email senior breast care nurses directly for advice).

Impact

The app was independently evaluated and the feedback was very positive. Patients considered it to be an accessible and helpful resource for people living with breast cancer. Users gave positive ratings of the app's appearance, ease of use and navigation, and viewed the information provided as comprehensive and useful for their condition. They highly recommended its use for other women with breast cancer. They endorsed using the app from diagnosis onwards and emphasised that healthcare professionals should routinely inform patients of the app after their breast cancer diagnosis.

Functionality

  • Secure, GDPR-compliant and CE-marked medical device
  • App for smartphone and tablet that provides patients and their loved ones with timely information - the right information at the right time
  • Information maintained through an online content management system (CMS), allowing Breast Cancer Kent to determine their own content. Content can be enriched with photos, videos, and quiz-like questions to assess the patient’s knowledge
  • Data collection, ranging from anonymous feedback forms to standardised patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) and patient-reported experience measures (PREMs) questionnaires
  • Monitoring of patients by adding alerts and thresholds to data that patients provide

Capabilities

  • Programmed to send push-notification reminders to patients about upcoming treatment
  • Simple user interface which becomes more targeted with the data the patient provides
  • Patients are able to email questions to breast cancer specialist nurses, contact their nursing and chemotherapy team directly if they have concerns
  • Patients can type in details about their individual situations and are shown links to further websites, contact numbers, and support groups
  • Ability to engage patients with progress trackers or sensor data related to their treatment pathway (for example, heart rate, step counters, pain scoring, lifestyle questionnaires, post-op exercises and weight loss)

Scope

To be used by breast cancer patients throughout their journey, from diagnosis through to admission, and to the last point of contact with the practice.

Key learning points

Feedback from the patients who have piloted it so far has been positive. The team is now planning to roll out a section of new content on secondary breast cancer and publish their experience in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Find out more

Find out more about Breast Cancer Kent

Key contact

Dr Russell Burcombe, consultant clinical oncologist, Maidstone Hospital, Kent

russell.burcombe@nhs.net

Christian Lindharth, project lead, Patient Journey App

christian@patientjourneyapp.com