Henry Ford Health System launches app for cancer patients

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 18, 2013        

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HenryFordCancerAppThe Henry Ford Center for Cancer Surgery has developed an app to help cancer patients find the answers they need when dealing with and treating cancer.

Developed in part by Dr. Steven Kalkanis, the Center for Cancer Surgery’s app offers patients a portal to learn about treatment options for their particular cancer type, access a 24-hour hotline, schedule an appointment at the facility, search for clinical trials, and browse a comprehensive video library, which is also a YouTube channel. The app features Epic Systems’ MyChart, an integrated personal health record (PHR) for hospital systems that use Epic’s medical records system.

“We started the Center for Cancer Surgery about six to nine months ago,” Kalkanis told MobiHealthNews. “We wanted an online, at your fingertips tool to help [patients] through this process. There are multiple moving parts, the patient has to meet with surgeon, meet with radiation and chemotherapy specialists. I helped developed it along with a group called Kart Media Group. One of the cool things is each individual patient gets assigned to a nurse navigator, a full-time oncology nurse who helps the patient through the process.”

The nurse navigator is assigned to the cancer patient depending on the type of cancer the patient has. A patient can then communicate with his or her nurse via email, pager or phone. The nurse navigator will accompany the patient to appointments, translate any information that was lost in translation, and provide discharge and follow-up information.

While the app launched last week, it was under beta testing for a few months prior, and has been downloaded around 1,000 times thus far. Patients and their families have provided great feedback about the app’s ability to help navigate appointments and treatment plans, according to Kalkanis.

“We hope, more importantly than number of downloads, that the app made the process easier,” Kalkanis said. “At each step we will be evaluating how the app has helped [patients].”

The app further categorizes cancer treatments by oncology teams. Most surgeons who deal with cancer are sub specialized, according to Kalkanis. The app asks for the kind of tumor and stage of tumor and then matches a patient to the team that is best suited to treat it.

“When you download the app, the immediate downloadable version is generic,” Kalkanis said. “But when you log into your account, you get into more specific data about your own care and your care team, reachable through your app, and you can reach your nurse navigator that way.”

This app “builds on the success” of Henry Ford Health Systems’ urology app, Vattikuti, which was released in May, Kalkanis said. The cancer app takes the concept further with the nurse navigator and MyChart features. Developed at the Henry Ford Vattikuti Urology Institute, Vattikuti provides patients with information about the urology institute and its staff, research and surgical procedure outcomes.

Also launched this year, Henry Ford Health Systems’ Men Who Cook app was created as a companion tool for the annual Men Who Cook fundraising event, which showcases the culinary talents of male employees who work at Henry Ford Health Systems. Fundraiser proceeds are given to the Tom Groth Patient Medical Needs Fund.