Many people with cancer know well the challenges of taking the right chemotherapy medicine at the right time.
“I take pills for several different chemo drugs to treat my breast cancer, and all have varying instructions for proper use. Some days it’s like finishing a jigsaw puzzle to get things just right! So, it’s very important to have tools at my fingertips that help me easily engage in my treatment plan,” says Anne Nilon, a 60-year-old Martinez, Calif. resident.
Nilon is a Sutter Health patient who participated in an early pilot of a mobile app developed to help people better take chemo drugs. As a result of that pilot, Sutter has designed a new app called MediConnect®, co-developed by Sutter and AstraZeneca, Inc. which will be formally piloted this winter.
“It’s like a savvy Siri, custom-made for cancer patients to help them simplify complex chemo regimens in ways that increase the likelihood of medication effectiveness and decrease the chance of side effects from improper chemo use,” says Dr. Rajesh Behl, Sutter hematology malignancy specialist, medical director of Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Comprehensive Cancer Center and physician lead for the development of MediConnect®.
Dr. Behl says the app’s dual interface also makes it easier for cancer doctors at Sutter to monitor patients to see how often and how well they take prescribed oral cancer chemo drugs in order to help them stay on track.
Doubling Up on Innovation for New Digital Health Technologies
MediConnect® is just one example of the mobile apps and digital platforms made possible by a new partnership between scientists at Sutter’s Center for Health Systems Research and the integrated health system’s digital team.
“Patients are at the heart of what we do daily through Sutter’s unified digital strategy to provide a connected, convenient and high-quality care experience,” says Chris Waugh, Sutter’s chief design and innovation officer. “By joining forces with Sutter’s CHSR team, we’re adding powerful new ways to design, test, launch and continually improve digital technologies for our patients and communities.”
J.B. Jones, Ph.D., director of CHSR and its digital research program adds, “From bench to bedside and beyond, research at Sutter ushers in discoveries to help detect, treat and manage common illnesses. We’re excited to ‘tag-team’ science and digital innovations that will bring easier and more seamless care to Sutter patients, when and where they need it.”
For patients like Nilon, this means a better chance to beat breast cancer. “Living with cancer can be hard,” she says. “Using an app will help make it easier, with a lower likelihood of missed or incorrect doses of my cancer chemo medications.”