Cancer patients are becoming increasingly savvy about technology, and the results benefit patients and providers alike. The latest innovation for survivors is MyJourney Compass, a centralized, integrated system of oncology care designed to aid patients as they make their way through and beyond the complexities of treatments available to them. Since the program emphasizes coordinated community care merged with technology, the pilot project’s launch in August 2013 took place in Rome, Georgia, a city known for its strong community-wide effort to fight cancer. With this program, cancer patients have easy access to their treatment records and medical histories, are able to communicate with their health care providers, and can obtain credible information on the Internet.
A TABLET LOADED WITH RESOURCES
Twenty-five women with breast cancer are participating in the pilot project for MyJourney Compass. Each person received a 7-inch computer tablet preloaded with apps and other resources pertinent to her care. To avoid the morass of inaccurate information on the Internet, bookmarks for credible websites such as Cancer.net and Caring Bridge are already on the tablet for those patients who want to research their disease. Each tablet also contains a personal e-mail address, a calendar for tracking appointments, maps of pertinent health care facilities, and a list of local cancer care providers with profiles.
MyJourney Compass uses Microsoft cloud-based HealthVault service to store patient records online and on the tablets. The ability to file their medical records digitally gives patients an advantage when they travel, when they conduct searches, or simply for saving space. When you are coping with disease, looking through digital files on a small computer tablet may be easier and less intimidating than wading through many large stacks of paper.
Volunteers from the community-based nonprofit group, Cancer Navigators, teach patients how to use MyJourney Compass as part of the guidance they regularly offer to cancer patients and their loved ones. A nurse navigator evaluates what each patient needs and customizes the tablet accordingly. This eliminates loading it with unnecessary information that might be overwhelming, confusing, or even frightening. Patients learn how to input their medications so they have that information readily available. They learn how to use the nutrition app to keep track of their food intake, and the navigators encourage them to take advantage of the tablet’s stress-relieving apps when they feel overwhelmed.
One of the more intriguing components of MyJourney Compass is the Symptom Tracker app developed at Georgia Tech. It charts and records a patient’s key symptoms and their progression and sends the information to the woman’s treatment team. For example, when a patient takes a new medication, the Symptom Tracker can prompt her to provide updates to the prescribing physician several times a day, enabling the doctor to evaluate the drug’s effectiveness or complications. If there is a problem, the oncology team can catch it early, often eliminating the need for an emergency department visit or hospital admission.