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New smartphone app supports cancer patients

December 5, 2018

My Care Conversations app helps patients keep on top of all the complex information patients need to process on visits with their oncologist.

My Care Conversations helps keep track of medical and treatment details

Story by Kristin Whitworth

A free smartphone application is now available to support cancer patients and their families throughout their healthcare journey, including during meetings with care providers.

The My Care Conversations app — developed in partnership between Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the Alberta Cancer Foundation — enables patients to record their conversations with their cancer care team to help them remember and confirm what was discussed.

“Research shows patients may forget up to 80 per cent of healthcare information discussed at clinic visits,” says Mauro Chies, AHS Vice President of Cancer Control and Clinical Support Services.

“Large amounts of new information and words that are unfamiliar can be confusing. This app allows patients to record their clinic conversations and later share those with trusted family and friends, and other members of their care team, to help communicate information and reduce misunderstandings.”

Research shows recording and re-listening to discussions with one’s care team, then sharing and discussing this information with family and trusted friends:

“The Alberta Cancer Foundation is pleased to make this investment on behalf of our donors,” says President and CEO George Andrews.

“We know how difficult a cancer diagnosis can be for patients and their families, and we are proud to be part of an initiative that makes that process easier and empowers Albertans to become active members of their cancer journey.”

In Alberta, patients have the right to record their clinical conversations. My Care Conversations has been developed with specific security features and functions that go beyond a standard recording app on a smartphone.

Cliff Roberts, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer in August, was the first patient to download and use the app during his initial appointment at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.

"Both my wife and I thought it was an awesome idea," he said. "When you get into a consult like that, you can't take everything in. And to have that on tape, it was awesome, because we were able to go back after the initial interview and listen to it and get things out of it."

The app allows patients to take notes during the appointment and later share the recording with family and friends, or re-play it to help them remember complex details about treatment options or side-effect management. (Note: It is against AHS policy to record in public areas of AHS facilities. Patients using the app are asked to wait until they are in a private clinic room, and then inform their care team they are planning to record the conversation.)

Roberts also said the app helped him go back to the recordings and listen to the type of medications mentioned, and from that, he and his wife could conduct further research on the medications.

The app is the first of its kind in Canada to be endorsed by a healthcare organization

“At Alberta Health Services, we want to empower patients and families take a more active role in their healthcare — and this app will help achieve that,” says Chies. My Care Conversations is available for download on the App Store for Apple devices, and on Google Home for Android devices. See AHS web for more information.