Mobile Apps for Chronic Cancer Patients
Which apps can be used by chronic cancer patients to help them with their illness and overall health?
There are literally thousands of medical apps in the marketplace and it is very difficult to sift through them and find out which ones are easy to use, practical and helpful.
I did some research, asked some patients, and read a lot of reviews to try and get an idea of which ones were helpful for chronic cancer patients.
Research and Information
I asked Cindy Chmielewski, (@MyelomaTeacher), a multiple myeloma survivor and patient advocate for the disease what apps she uses to stay abreast of the latest news in cancer research and treatment. She commented,
Cancer.net app is a wonderful resource for patients. It provides information on specific cancers, provides a place to write questions, write/record answers, list medications, record symptoms and more. “
Cindy then gave me a list of some other research and information apps that she uses regularly to stay informed:
ClinicalTrialSeek by Novartis lets patients search NIH data for clinical trials that could be a fit based on the treatments and diseases under investigation, location, development phase and other aspects of the studies. The app also provides information about how trials work and those that the company and others are sponsoring. Eli Lilly and others have launched similar apps in hopes of educating patients about clinical trials--and perhaps boost enrollment too.
Support and Networking
There are numerous patient support tools that help cancer patients stay connected with other patients and friends. CaringBridge is a popular one. And of course, joining and participating in specific groups on Facebook is always a popular and easy way to connected and stay current.
For lymphoma patients, the Focus on Lymphoma app from The Lymphoma Research Foundation includes information on lymphoma subtypes and disease stages, a set of tools to help patients manage their health and a variety of resources and networks that assists them and supports them through treatment and survivorship.
Fitness apps and nutrition and healthy eating apps are also important to keep fit, eat healthy and maintain a healthy lifestyle. The internet has an abundance of these and each person can find one to fit his specific needs.
Notes and Organization
To stay organized and remind themselves of meetings and commitments, many patients use apps. Cindy Chmielewski comments,
“Before Chemobrain, I didn’t need to rely on reminders, but now I use the calendars, reminders and a notes app on my iPad.”
Jenny Ahlstrom, a multiple myeloma survivor, developed an app,ChemoBrain DocNotes, specifically to help patients remember the important questions for their next doctor’s visit and what was said during the appointment.
ChemoBrain DocNotes provides patients with an easy way to record questions , either by voice or by text for their next doctor visit. Patients can also record their doctor’s visit in a voice memo and play it back later. Jenny Ahlstrom comments,
“Remembering what the doctor said during the visit is an equally big challenge, especially when the doctor covers your diagnosis or treatment plan using complicated medical terms”.
Cancer caregiver, Sharon Reamer, adds,
“I try to be at every appointment to be an extra set of ears for my friend. Now if I can’t be there, she can record the visit and email me the file so I know what the doctor said.”
Another cancer survivor, Liz Smith, volunteers,
“I am jotting down questions in Chemo Brain Doc Notes any time I think of an issue for my next appointment. The app is simple and easy to use.”
Oral cancer treatments are more and more common, especially for chronic cancer patients. Studies, such as the one conducted by research leader and CML survivor, Giora Sharf, show that medical adherence is an important topic. Why is it so hard for patients to take their meds, and what tools would make it easier?
In this video, Giora explains that 26% of the patients surveyed would use a mobile app to remind them to take their medication. Here are some of the medication reminder apps available:
And for those who want to go with a non-digital reminder, there are vibrating pillboxes, watch alarms, etc on epill
Andrew Schorr, CLL and MPN survivor, and founder of the Patient Empowerment Network and Patient Power, has a rather unique way to remind him to take his oral medication. Andrew really likes Bruno Mars and so every day, morning and evening, Andrew’s daughter set his iPhone up to play the song, “Lazy Day” and show the mention “Take Medicine”. An easy and fun way to remember!
Find the App That Suits You Best
As chronic cancer becomes more prevalent, and apps get more sophisticated and easier to use, more and more patients will use them. There are an overwhelming number of apps available; you need to find the one that suits you best.
The above information is, of course, my opinion and the result of my gathering of information and is not a ‘formal’ review of these apps. Comments or advice and suggestions about apps is more than welcomed in the comment section below!
Joan Justice is Director of Special Projects at thePatient Empowerment Network, a global non-for-profit organization dedicated to fortifying the health care consumer with the knowledge and tools to feel more confident playing a central role in decisions that affect their health. Joan has a background in nursing and domestic and international healthcare marketing. Previously, she was the ...