Nurse navigators often see patients struggling to manage their lives after a cancer diagnosis. The stress of day-to-day activities is compounded with the need to fit in medical appointments, find help with tasks if they are not feeling up to them, keep track of their medical records, and manage their overall health. Now, there is a new digital tool that can help them navigate their journey.
At the second annual Patient Navigation Initiative hosted by Susan G. Komen of Greater New York City, Pfizer Oncology presented a new digital tool called LivingWith. This free app allows patients to create a tight-knit circle of friends and families to stay connected and easily update loved ones; send requests to people asking for help with daily tasks; track mood, pain and sleep; and keep track of questions or important information for oncology team appointments.
“The truth is, we have a long way to go in our quest for a cure, but there is still 15-plus million people living with cancer in the US today,” Savitiri Basavaiah, Senior Director of Portfolio Marketing and Customer Engagement at Pfizer Oncology, said during a presentation at the conference.
“Regardless of their prognosis, they want to live, and they want to live their normal life. They don’t want it to be what defines them and live their life to the fullest. So, that is where technology can really be helpful.”
Patients, caregivers and health care teams can download the app for free, using the Apple or Google Play stores, or by visiting the This Is Living With Cancer site – which is the main hub for the program designed to share inspirational stories and offer patients and their caregivers an online tool to help. Nurse navigators may be invited to join their patients' contact circle for greater insight into their progress, and to be better able to understand their support needs.
“They are able to self-identify their tumor type and then start getting some curated information over time,” said Basavaiah. “It is not just for the patients. It is for the whole team around them: the health team, caregivers, their support network.”
In addition to offering access to the app, the site also gives tumor-specific resource recommendations, as well as inspirational videos from an ad board of patients who also worked with the company to develop the needs for the app.
As part of the program, members of Pfizer Oncology started a global patient engagement initiative, designed to conduct research on how to support patients as a whole. Researchers surveyed over 700 patients “to really understand what it takes – from surviving to thriving,” Basavaiah said.
“We learned that outside of that treatment decision, which is so overwhelming, and the clinical care, there is so much that the patient is dealing with to live their new normal, between managing all of their information, to connecting with friends and family, to tracking their health and having that conversation with everyone on their health team. It takes a lot,” she added.
Members involved with the initiative also interviewed the various members of an oncology health care team including nurses, social workers, patient navigators and physicians to understand additional opportunities. Lastly, they looked at the applications and programs that currently exist for patients.
“Our vision with the patient engagement program was really to take that feeling of fragmented and uncoordinated management of the day-to-day to thriving in this new normal,” Basavaiah added.
The app essentially allows patients to manage their day-to-day lives, while also keeping family and friends up-to-date and health care teams equipped with what is going on in between appointments.
“There is a lot that this tool can do. It is our way of providing a technology that is available to everyone in the oncology community for free to use,” Basavaiah said. “We recognize that no two patients are the same, no two navigator experiences are the same, so maybe different functionality will be used by different folk. And that is ok. But it allows you to have everything in one place, to have that richer conversation with the patient.”