Breast cancer app to offer patients personalised medical support throughout their treatment

Being diagnosed with cancer can be a difficult time for many patients. It is easy for them to feel overwhelmed with information following diagnosis. For breast cancer patients, an app that supports more personalised medical support throughout treatment could have significant benefits.

Situation

Breast cancer and its treatment can often cause emotional trauma and health issues that impact a patient’s daily life. In order to support patients with breast cancer to manage their health problems during and after their treatment, a digital solution was developed to provide them with a clear overview of their condition, upcoming treatments, appointments, and a way to easily monitor how they feel.

Cancer care teams also wanted to understand how breast cancer patients with more complex needs respond to treatment. This digital solution enabled patients to share their wellbeing and treatment side effects data with their care teams in real time.

Aspiration

The app aimed to help patients regain control of their lives from the first day of diagnosis by providing them with valuable, personalised insights about their day-to-day wellbeing, allowing for better discussions with their doctors, and enabling them to make more informed decisions about their treatment.

The app also aimed to improve patients’ outcomes and reduce hospital visits, as patients could share self-monitored health data with healthcare professionals. That way, care teams could access real-time insights into patients’ wellbeing and side effects, enabling the management of treatment-related toxicities in a timely manner.

Solution and impact

OWise breast cancer has been developed in collaboration with patients to provide support they need from cancer diagnosis throughout treatment and follow-up. It can be used at multiple points in the patient pathway to complement the traditional paper-based tools, for example, to replace chemotherapy diaries for recording side effects and symptoms during treatment. Clinicians can then use the data to inform decision-making about ongoing treatment options, supporting a personalised treatment approach.

By using the mobile app or website, patients can receive personalised treatment information and tailor-made question suggestions to prepare for conversations with their doctors. Patients can register how they feel at different stages of their treatment, which can help physicians understand how a patient is responding to certain medications. Different symptoms, such as a patient’s fatigue, nausea and pain can be tracked and viewed in graph format, which enables easy sharing with their treating physician or nurse. This allows patients to get a better insight into the effects of medicines on their wellbeing, while clinicians can obtain detailed information about the condition of their patients between hospital visits. This enables doctors to adjust the treatment if and when necessary.

Functionality

  • OWise can be accessed through a website or as an app on smartphones and tablets
  • Enables patients to record their treatment experiences, side effects and overall quality of life and to share progress with the clinical teams
  • Offers a suite of tailored information and tools to support people with breast cancer
  • Can be accessed through the NHS Apps library and is available to download in the App Store and Google Play
  • Real-time OWise patient reported outcome (PRO) data that patients choose to share can also be easily integrated into the commonly used electronic health record (EHR) systems, such as EPIC or Cerner

Capabilities

The solution contains a suite of tools to support patients with breast cancer, including:

  • personalised information on breast cancer and patient-specific treatment pathways, providing patients with interactive access to extensive information on their condition
  • a tailored list of questions to prompt discussions with the oncology care team
  • a data sharing function so patients can send their wellbeing data to their care team and carers through a secure hyperlink
  • a secure audio-recording function, allowing patients to record and replay clinical consultations
  • physical and psychological side-effect and symptom tracking
  • a diary function that lists upcoming appointments and the current stage in the patient’s treatment plan

Scope

The app is designed for patients to manage their health condition at home throughout their journey, in conjunction with standard treatments for breast cancer, as a replacement for paper-based support tools.

OWise can also be easily integrated into the most common EHR systems, such as EPIC or Cerner. This helps clinicians to more effectively monitor patients between consultations, optimising both patient experience and clinical outcomes.

Key learning points

For the period of implementation, it is useful to have service management involved, as new solutions, such as OWise, benefit from the support of a service implementation manager.

Key figures/quotes

  • 90% of both patients and clinicians would recommend OWise to other breast cancer patients
  • More than 5,000 UK users

“This mobile app really supports patients positively through the physical and emotional challenges of having breast cancer. It is also a tremendous tool for supporting the relationship between a patient and their clinician during their treatment as well as for breast cancer services as a whole.”
Dr Samantha Barrell, former chief executive, Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust

“OWise is a great app and was hugely useful during my treatment. It was recommended to me by my oncologist, and I am really glad I chose to use it. I would frequently refer back to it when I had to discuss my health with nurses or doctors and without the app, I don't think I'd have been as aware of trends and side effects.”
Rebecca, OWise user and breast cancer patient

“Digital technologies like OWise offer real potential to improve a cancer patient’s experience. Being able to see a timeline that charts a patient’s symptoms from their own perspective, directly within our electronic clinical records, is fantastic. It definitely improves our ability to understand how cancer and its treatment are affecting a patient.”
Dr Peter Hall, consultant medical oncologist, Edinburgh Cancer Centre

“My world collapsed when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. But with OWise, I gained control of my life again.”
Violet Bijvanck, OWise user and breast cancer patient

Find out more

OWise is used as a case study example in the NICE evidence standard framework for digital health technologies (PDF, 5.0MB)

Find out more about OWise Breast Cancer

More about the standalone version of OWise Breast Cancer (video)

More about the hospital’s integrated version of OWise (video)

Key contact

Dr Anne Bruinvels, founder, Px HealthCare

anneb@pxhealthcare.com