The New Normal: Cancer Apps
Debi Fischer is a nurse at the University of Miami surgical oncology step down unit. Prior to that she worked in orthopedics and neurology for many years. In addition to her nursing experience, she has earned a master’s degree in social work. Becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker was a lon-sought-after goal which she finally attained. She is a caregiver for her family and her dogs as well.
Cancer care and the information around it has moved online.
In today’s COVID-19 pandemic atmosphere, oncology patients and nurses are under added stress. When patients are admitted, the nurse caring for them needs information related to their cancer diagnosis readily available. Online apps can help them in their research. The patient can also log on to the app and view as well as engage with the platform.
Linking Patients to Information
I have had numerous patients who were otherwise healthy and then received a sudden diagnosis of cancer which unfortunately had already spread. The primary nurse caring for these patients is a wealth of information regarding their treatment plan. She/he can provide links to patients for these cancer apps. This could be generalized to patients across the board with different types of cancers as well.
As a nurse who has worked many years in the field, there is so much information available that patients can access. In the old days, there were very few resources for RNs, and I don’t remember that much typed written patient information.
On a personal note, I have worked with nursing students in their other role as CNAs (certified nursing assistants), and all their materials are online. In Miami, where I live, there is a Simulation Hospital at Miami Dade College, where nursing students have their virtual patient experience.
Chances are that patients have their phone with them. Using their phone to help patients learn about their cancer is a time saver and very convenient. Patients are overwhelmed with new corona virus information symptom information already. The elephant in the room is their cancer diagnosis. Nowadays current practice has patients tested for COVID-19 before being admitted to the oncology unit. Patients are alone in the hospital now due to visitor restrictions. Accessing these apps is another way they can maintain their connection to the world. These apps will help nurses and patients stay current with information related to their underlying diagnosis.
Three Relevant Apps
There are three apps relevant to this trend. They are: CareZone, Belong/Beating Cancer Together, and Cancer.Net. Mobile.
The app that has been downloaded one million times is CareZone (https://carezone.com/home). Patients can look at it on a phone or a browser and can input and access all their relevant clinical data on either format. There is a convenient storage area where they can list their lab data and meds as well as their current height and weight. Patients can also house a list of their chemo treatments. Clinical staff can also use it to access cancer treatment regimens. This app lets you store photos of meds as well.
Belong/Beating Cancer Together
Belong/Beating Cancer Together (https://belong.life/) is being promoted as a means of locating support groups and clinicians who can answer patient questions about specific cancers. Family members can also tap into this resource.
In addition, if the patient wants to get information about clinical trials, this is the app for them. Another plus is that medical records can be housed there also, like CareZone. This is a free app and 250,000 people around the world have tried it.
Finally, Cancer.Net. Mobile (https://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/managing-your-care/cancernet-mobile) is the official app from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The goal of this app is to help the patient navigate through the world of cancer, at the onset of their journey, when their physician gives them the news to specific solutions. There are 120 different types of cancers it examines.
The app has a symptom tracker and helps the patient or family member in terms of organization. The patient can list his physicians, when their next appointment is, and all medications taken.
Technology has helped the fight against cancer in so many ways. This is another tool in the arsenal.