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NHS Chemo Diary

The NHS Chemo Diary is an App in development which empowers patients to understand the severity of chemotherapy side effects, alerting them to seek immediate attention if necessary.

NHS Chemo Diary

NHS Chemo Diary is an App which enables patients to score chemotherapy side effects by clicking any parts of the body concerned on a human body diagram and entering a colour-coded grade. For example, if a patient is experiencing mouth ulcers that stop them eating or drinking – they can click on the mouth on the diagram and enter the grade which corresponds to the degree of seriousness – red which codes for ‘very bad’ and green for ‘very good’. If a patient’s symptom is particularly bad, for example, if they enter red for stomach pain – they will be asked to go to A&E to seek advice.

Currently, side effects caused by cancer or chemotherapy are assessed by the doctor at clinic visits, or nurses on the day that chemotherapy is administered, or by the patient themselves, by using the ‘Your Chemotherapy Record‘ booklet produced by the North of England Cancer Network.

Dr Michelle Chen and patient John Shearn pitched to the Dragons' Den 2013

The idea for the App came about when Dr Harpreet Wasan, Consultant Medical Oncologist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, was regularly sent colour-coded charts corresponding to the side effects from chemotherapy by his patient, John Shearn. Inspired by the ease of reviewing the side effects which were colour graded, Dr Wasan linked Mr Shearn with Dr Michelle Chen, Team Lead at the Trust’s Clinical Trial Unit, to turn this idea into a user-friendly App. The team entered an App proposition into Institute for Global Health Innovation’s Dragons’ Den 2013 competition. Although it was not one of the original winners, the judging panel was impressed with the idea and awarded them with £15,000 funding from the NIHR Imperial Patient Safety Translational Research Centre, as well as put them in touch with Portable Pixels for App development support.

Patients can access the App at any point during their treatment to capture and report cancer chemotherapy toxicities, which then provides a report of all side effects experienced daily to the clinician. This will assist clinicians’ treatment decisions, whether to modify the chemotherapy dose, prescribe medication to alleviate side effects, or arrange further investigations.

Speaking about the benefits of the App, Dr Wasan said: “This App will enable patients to report treatment side effects accurately and regularly, provides data in real time, rather than relying on the patient’s memory of past side effects, and ultimately assists clinicians to triage different patients’ treatment needs based on the severity of their condition.”

NHS Chemo Diary has just completed its alpha testing stage and will go through with beta testing with 10-15 patients in September 2014. Feedback on functionality will also be sought from professionals including nurses, doctors, chemotherapists and GPs.

In the long run, Dr Wasan envisions that the App can be also used to capture detailed information about the quality of life of patients who are undergoing clinical trials, e.g., measurements of toxicity, side effects and how patients feel each day.

If you’re interested to find out more about this App, please email Dr Chen at m.chen@imperial.ac.uk.