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CancerAid will help in information delivery and patient care management
Sharing a common ideology and the desire to trigger global change, a team of young Australian doctors has developed a new app that could soon overhaul cancer care.
Over the past 14 months, Nikhil Pooviah and Raghav Murali Ganesh of Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, in association with Akshat Saxena from Liverpool Hospital, have been working closely to deliver an innovative product that targets cancer patients, caregivers, clinicians and healthcare institutions worldwide. The trio have teamed up with Melbourne-based entrepreneurial digital product development company Papercloud, to create a prototype, while Lucy Andrews, Marcus Lockard and Kastoori Hingorani have provided strategic support for the digital platform.
The brainchild of Pooviah, CancerAid seeks to address inefficiencies in information delivery and patient care management by creating a low-cost, high-value digital tool, thereby saving vital healthcare dollars and improving quality of life. The primary aim of the tool is to help patients feel more connected. Available across all device platforms including web, iOS, Android and Windows smartphones by August 2016, estimates indicate that CancerAid could potentially benefit 25 million cancer patients and 8000 institutions worldwide.
Besides increasing access to care and support, the app seeks to achieve better patient understanding and compliance through in depth clinician-patient interaction and dialogue.
“Being diagnosed with cancer is a long, lonely and disorientating journey and we want to offer all manner of support possible. Free to users, we believe CancerAid has the potential to be the gold-standard oncology resource and hope to drive change by empowering patients with knowledge and assistance,” Dr Pooviah told Indian Link.
“The premise for CancerAid began when I discovered the absence of a digital platform (in patient support). Along with my team, I believed we had the creativity and experience with technology to design a solution to improve issues that we, as cancer specialists, see day-to-day at work.”
Each member of the development team has brought unique skills and expertise in oncology to the different aspects of the application. Pooviah said, “Our vision revolves around providing a digital health solution that revolutionises cancer therapy information delivery and management.”
“I have become very passionate about our project to the point where the development process to date has motivated me to pursue a career in developing applications for patients,” Dr Pooviah added.
“Digital solutions are clearly the way to go in future. They can significantly improve the Australian healthcare system and lower the fiscal burden as a whole,” said Raghav Murali Ganesh.
With an ageing population, health expenditure currently accounts for 9% of Australia’s GDP. After cardiovascular diseases, cancer is the largest cause of chronic illness, affecting one in three Australians at an estimated cost of $4.5 billion.
This is where the new generation of doctors can help. “By implementing digital solutions, we can definitely drive change and empower patients and carers with knowledge and assistance,” Murali Ganesh said. “Having lived, studied and worked in Australia, the UK, New Zealand and India provides me with a multidimensional understanding of the global burden of chronic disease, and I view digital health tools as an opportunity to overcome this issue. My passion for implementing this has led me to direct my fellowship training in 2017 towards patient advocacy and commence further research leading to a higher qualification in this growing sector,” he added.
The patient’s journey is the focal point of Akshat Saxena’s passion for oncology. “Oncology patients are unique in the mental, physical and psychological challenges that they face. Patients from outer metropolitan areas, rural communities, even those within big cities, have difficulty in accessing care and processing the complex overload of information,” he explained. “It was a no-brainer for me to involve myself in a project that has the potential to revolutionise the patient experience and to offer meaningful support during tough times. I am committed to realising our vision of becoming the gold standard cancer application. It allows me to help patients in a way that I never could have as a clinician.”
Named in the top 10 at the Australian-Shell Innovation Challenge and runner up in the Health Roundtable Innovation Awards, CancerAid has already made significant inroads by securing venture capital funds and government grants. Endorsed by many specialists, it has also begun collaborations with healthcare organisations and cancer charities. Further negotiations are underway with a view for equity share.
A research study surveying information-seeking behaviours, as well as testing the CancerAid application prototype in a randomised controlled trial, is being carried out in a hospital environment to validate the application and identify improvements prior to full version release later this year. CancerAid was also accepted as a presentation at the NSW Digital Health Capacity Building Symposium last year.
The team’s competitive edge is centred on their expertise and traction within the medical fraternity. A telemedicine service for ongoing medical and psychological support, as well as expansion to second-generation healthcare applications for other chronic diseases are also in the works.