mHealth: building a mobile companion app for cancer sufferers

Cancer treatment is a very complex and painful process demanding the highest level of accuracy from both physician and patient. And it is also an area where mobile technology can assist with treatment.

Relatris‘s insight:

migrate2mobile is a company supporting their clients to go mobile with their existing products and information. They published a summary of benefits mobile applications can have for cancer patients. While some of these are really supportive (e.g. symptom tracking), others seem to be rather constructed- or which patient really needs to do blood count tracking or units conversion? Still, they list some classical examples where mhealth is useful for both, patients and doctors.

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Smartphone game ‘GeneGame’ to crowdsource cancer research

Gamers playing a Cancer Research UK smartphone app set for launch this autumn will be helping to find new treatments for cancer.

Currently titled “GeneGame”, users of the app will be analysing genetic data and helping to pinpoint the genetic causes of cancer as they play.

“2013 is the year that we’re changing the face of cancer research”

Amy Carton, Cancer Research UK

“We have terabytes, upon petabytes of genetic data,” Cancer Research UK’s citizen science lead Amy Carton told “The nature of that data is such that humans are far better at analysing it than an algorithm.”

Hidden in that data, some of which originates from studies carried out in the 1970s, could be information that points researchers towards new treatments for cancer. The vast amount of data means that, unfortunately, “our scientists are not getting through it fast enough,” says Carton.

That’s where the power of the crowd comes in. There are millions of smartphone users spending million of minutes a day playing smartphone games like Kingdom Rush. Carton wants to tap into huge amount of human effort and direct it towards medical research.

Relatris‘s insight:

News from the UK cance gamification app. What initially started as an initiative involving Facebook, Google and Amazon will now be carried out by a company named Guerilla Tea. Looking forward being a citizen scientist having fun doing research 🙂

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Docwise is an app that helps physicians stay up to date on medical journals and news

Docwise is a medical app that aggregates new articles from medical journals and medical news sources.  There are similar applications, such as Read by QxMD and Docphin, but with this app, physicians also have the ability to select their favorite medical news sourcesDocwise is a medical app that aggregates new articles from medical journals and medical news sources.  There are similar applications, such as Read by QxMD and Docphin, but with this app, physicians also have the ability to select their favorite medical news sources such as Medscape.

Relatris‘s insight:

There are quiet some journal aggregator apps available. In this review, Docwise is tested, an aggregator in magazine style that also lets you add news sources. The addition of journals is very handy, and with the exeption of highlighting, all necessary options are available.

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OncoAssist becomes latest app to be classified as a medical device

An iPhone and iPad app that offers oncologists a full range of clinical decision support tools has become the latest mobile application to be classified as a medical device.

OncoAssist is designed to save oncologists time by providing quick and easy access to prognostic tools that can help with decisions on risk stratification and clinical trial.

Relatris‘s insight:

OncoAssist seems to be a very interesting app for oncologists, aggregating a bunch of useful tools from certified sources and seeking approval from authorities. Right now only available (and certified) in the UK and Irland, we are looking forward seeing this app in the Swiss app store. For more information:

For a walkthrough:

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Skin Doctors Question Accuracy Of Apps For Cancer Risk

Smartphone apps that assess moles for skin cancer risk missed threatening moles one-third of the time, say dermatologists who tested some of the apps. The apps could give people a false sense of security about their skin.

Ferris and her colleagues used photos of 188 moles, 60 of which were confirmed as melanoma, to test four find-the-skin-cancer apps: three that do instant in-phone diagnosis, and one that ships the mole mug shots to a real live dermatologist for review.

The dermatologists correctly identified the suspicious moles 98 percent of the time. But the apps that relied on algorithms were much less reliable, missing the melanoma 30 percent of the time.

“One app would pick up a certain melanoma, and it would be missed by another,” Ferris tells Shots. And it wasn’t like they were going out of their way to stump the app. “These are melanomas that I could show to an untrained person and they’d go, ‘That looks bad’“.

Relatris‘s insight:

With pattern recognition known as one of the things humans overrule computers by far, the outcome of this study actually does not suprise too much. But again an example how important it is that apps get reviewed and tested.

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Survey: 45 percent of smartphone users want online physician appointment booking

The survey asked how interested the respondents were in communicating with healthcare providers or obtaining diagnostic tests through a smartphone or tablet […]

Some 43 percent of respondents were interested in asking doctors questions, another 45 percent were interested in booking appointments, while 42 percent were interested in checking the effects and side effects of a medicine. While the percentage differences between the age groups didn’t vary much, people over the age of 65 were less interested than other age groups. Of the healthcare services listed, the patients were least interested in getting reminders to participate in programs for exercise, diet, weight loss and other wellness programs.

Relatris‘s insight:

About 30% of respondents of the questionnaire like to interact with their physician online and would approve of tools allowing to do so easily. Unfortunately, the article does not state which percentage of total American adults online those respondents represented. Still, an app supporting patient/physician interactions can definitively improve communication, which is especially important with diseases as complex as cancer, enhancing patients trust in doctors and medications.

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New Mobile App Assists Oncologists In Navigating Ever-Evolving Sea Of Cancer Information

Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY) announced an exclusive sponsorship of MDLinx, a web property of M3 USA, for a searchable mobile application that provides reviews of the latest oncology-specific journal articles.

The journal aggregator app, called MDLinx Oncology Articles, is available for Google Android® and Apple iPhone® platforms and allows users to access the oncology information that is most important to them wherever they may be. Physician editors at MDLinx rank, sort and summarize oncology articles from more than 150 oncology journals, allowing oncologists to not only choose what journals they want to follow and filter by sub-specialty, but also search articles by key term or tumor type. The content is selected and controlled exclusively by the MDLinx Editorial Team at M3.

Relatris‘s insight:

I downloaded this app about two weeks before its official launch and did a small analysis of the publications chosen by the MDLinx team.

The app has a straight-forward, lean, and appealing design with a sponsor screen quickly showing up while the app is starting and a clear and easy to handle journal search/add.

First, I chose 6 journals (BJC, CCR, EJC, IJC, JCO and Lancet Oncology) in the app and compared the articles in the app stream with the TOCs on the journal website. With the exception of Lancet, all articles were “online first” and showed up in the app randomly distributed from the date of online publication up to one week after.

I then analyzed the percentage of main articles published by 4 of those journals (BJC, CCR, JCO and Lancet) that appear in the app stream within this week for the last couple of issues. The number was 70% to nearly 90%, which still leaves you with a high number of articles in your feed.

Last, I compared the articles in the app with those in MDLinx email newsletter for 5 consecutive days for the journals chosen. On 4 of the 5 days, the app suggested more publications than the newsletter (25-45% more), while only few publications showed up in the newsletter but not in the app. The newsletter therefore provides you with a stringer selection of the published articles.

Taken together, the app is an appealing and handy way to get publications-on-the-go, but to enhance the value of the app (especially compared to other journal aggregator apps), I think even more curation is needed- even when now and then, some important information may get lost.

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