Revolutionising Cancer Care: the REBECCA App Aims to Improve Patients’ Quality of Life and Communication with Doctors
The Stavanger University Hospital (SUH) together with the Cancer Society in Rogaland County, Norway, organised a meeting with breast and prostate cancer patients to promote the REBECCA system and explain how personalised treatment plans based on real-world data collection can address the complex chronic conditions which cancer patients often face after their treatments. The discussion was led by Marius Stensland chief physician at the Department of Haematology and Oncology, Kjersti Tjensvoll, Chief Engineer/Researcher, Department of Haematology and Oncology, SUH and the Work Package leader in the REBECCA project, and Ingrid Holsvik Dahl, study nurse.
Breast cancer patients particularly appreciated that REBECCA focuses on the late side effects of cancer treatments. Patients also confirmed that the REBECCA data collection is covering the most important parameters that characterise chronic fatigue.
Another advantage of the data collection through wearables is that it makes self-observation more conscious: patients pay more attention to the signs of their own bodies and they get a confirmation that their symptoms are real. Moreover, it also makes patients realise that they need to communicate their thoughts, feelings and needs more clearly. This way of real-life data collection can also allow both physicians and patients to detect the side effects of treatments earlier and in a symptomatic way.
Interaction via these wearables also provides enormous emotional support both to patients and their families. Patients approve that their companion could be involved through the companion app because the cancer diagnosis affects the whole family, and if the companion is made part of this data collection process, it triggers more engagement, support and awareness around the struggles that cancer patients experience due to the late side effects. Receiving feedback from companions is important also because patients might have difficulties talking about what they go through, therefore the family can add different perspectives to patients’ testimonials. Last but not least of all, if patients can share their feelings, they will learn that they are not alone with their symptoms.
SUH is also investigating the potential use of REBECCA for prostate cancer patients. The REBECCA system might also help them to focus on important things to discuss, both with their medical doctors and their companion, regarding their late side effects. They would also get more support and understanding about their life situation by involving their companion through the companion app.