Georgia tech is developing and testing MyPath, an application to guide and support breast cancer patients that provides personalized information and advice on all major aspects of the disease.
The application, which is currently being used by 50 patients in rural Georgia, works on tablet computers and manages every stage of the breast cancer oncology pathway, providing targeted information for each individual patient; it also addresses a variety of other relevant issues such as social and emotional needs.
The app development started six years ago when the Georgia Tech team began working with Harbin Clinic in Rome, Georgia. The clinic follows patients from a wide rural area through a holistic cancer treatment program. Harbin doctors and their cancer navigators – people who help patients on their journey against cancer – desired a better way to stay in regular contact with patients. Specifically, navigators are able to extensively interact with patients at the time of diagnosis, but less frequently over time.
MyPath uses a resource library compiled by the American Cancer Society and other scientific societies. The app manages the diagnosis and treatment plan of each patient, including the dates of medical procedures. Patients also complete regular surveys that help inform the system and caregivers of their changing needs and symptoms.
The result is a system that provides patients with specific resources and suggestions for their personal situation. Because MyPath knows, for example, that the patient has a stage 2 breast cancer and will have a nodulectomy on a certain date, when the patient clicks on the “Preparation for Surgery” category, it will suggest relevant articles to prepare her for what awaits her.
Did the patient report nausea in the survey proposed by the app? MyPath will draw the patient’s attention to resources that can help combat the side effect. The system also provides quick access to information for contacting specific healthcare professionals.
The main advantage of this app, compared to other applications and the internet, is that it provides personalised information and offers a new channel to strengthen the relationship between patients and the healthcare facility that treats them.
It is a way to make patients feel less lonely in a difficult path of their lives, to give the right directions at the right time and to make the action of health professionals more effective.