Cancer support in the palm of your hand

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The Princess Margaret Centre recently launched a free app which helps guide patients and families throughout the cancer treatment process, from diagnosis through to after treatment.

Many people find themselves feeling overwhelmed following a cancer diagnosis. The stress of not knowing what happens next, what questions to ask, or where to find help can lead patients to feel out of control. The Princess Margaret Cancer Journey app was designed to give patients a place to start.

Since 2011, the Princess Margaret has provided patients with a comprehensive, patient-focused cancer guide in the form of the My Cancer Journey Personal Guide Book, a three-ring binder full of helpful materials developed by the Patient & Family Education program in consultation with patients and clinicians. The My Cancer Journey Personal Guide Book aims to develop patients’ self-management skills and self-efficacy through the provision of timely information, leading to improved clinical outcomes.

With the booming popularity of mobile apps, the Patient & Family Education program worked with Princess Margaret’s Web & Digital Innovation team to adapt the Guide Book into a downloadable app, giving patients more choice for accessing this information. By adapting the trustworthy health information from the Guide Book and leveraging the strengths of mobile technology, the Cancer Journey app provides a convenient, portable complement to the binder.

Like the Guide Book, the Cancer Journey app is organized by the different phases of the cancer experience, providing information such as articles on what patients can expect at each phase of the cancer journey, examples of questions they may want to ask their health care team, and descriptions of services available at the Princess Margaret and in the community.  The Cancer Journey app also allows patients to take notes, write down questions they’d like to ask their health care team, and keep track of their doctor’s contact information.

The mobile adaptation enhances the Guide Book by providing additional features that benefit patients. Patients with visual impairments or limited English proficiency can use  Apple’s VoiceOver or Google’s TalkBack text-to-speech technologies to listen to information rather than read. Patients can view websites with more details or call services at the tap of a button. The app provides instantaneous access to the latest and most up-to-date brochures, physician and services details, and health information as Princess Margaret information databases are updated.

The Princess Margaret offers quality educational materials in multiple media formats to provide patients with options to learn the information they want and need in ways that meet their learning preferences. Helping patients become active participants in their care leads to improved feelings of control and ultimately increases their quality of life.

The app was made possible by the Zas and Stella Ruth Feitelson Patient Education Fund at The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.

Download the free app by searching for “Princess Margaret Cancer Journey” in Google Play or the Apple App Store.