Data firm transforming lives of Scottish cancer patients with online tool targets national roll-out
6th March 2020
Enabling patients to record their symptoms in real time from the ease of their homes, without having to speak directly with a doctor, the innovative tool, which is funded by the Cancer Innovation Challenge, aims to potentially improve cancer patients’ life expectancy, whilst delivering longer-term insights into the effectiveness of different treatments.
To date, the platform has successfully collected and analysed data from patients with haematological cancer at NHS Ayrshire and Arran. This project, which started as a trial through the Cancer Innovation Challenge in 2017, is now in routine long-term use supporting the care of chemotherapy patients at University Hospital Crosshouse and Ayr Hospital – with many patients positively benefiting.
Three additional phases, focused on breast, lung, bladder, prostate and gynaecological cancers, are up and running across the country at The Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the South and East Scotland Cancer Network, with the final phase – the National Digital Platform – aimed at putting steps in place to deploy the platform across all Scottish health boards.
Sally Damms, Chief Operating Officer at My Clinical Outcomes (MCO), said: “Nationally, more than 60,000 patients and over 1,000 clinicians across the UK are successfully using the platform to support a range of medical conditions, with the innovative solution recently recognised at Scotland’s Digital Health & Care Awards 2020, for the enhanced safety and long-term monitoring that it provides to all patients.
“Due to the sheer volume of patients seen every year, hospitals tend to only track process-driven outcomes that are easier to measure, such as waiting times, length of stay and avoidable complications. While, these are important, they don’t capture the impact of disease on patients’ lives, and the success or otherwise of treatment, particularly as these measurements tend to end when patients leave the hospital.
“From the patient perspective, it can also take a huge amount of effort to arrange regular calls or appointments with a specialist, particularly if they’re unwell following treatment, meaning symptoms sometimes go unreported. By providing a user-friendly, web-based platform, patients are more likely to accurately record how they are feeling – information that can be used by clinicians to inform and improve their treatment and quality of life.”
Commenting on the success of the platform at NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Dr Peter Maclean, said: “I have found the whole experience working with My Clinical Outcomes to have been refreshingly positive. It gives me hope, that with the right collaboration, an amazing amount can be achieved within the NHS setting."
Launched in 2017 by Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, Catherine Calderwood, the Cancer Innovation Challenge is a £1 million project funded by the Scottish Government through the Scottish Funding Council to encourage collaboration between innovation centres, medical professionals and cutting-edge healthcare businesses to help Scotland become a world-leader in cancer care.
The project brings together three Innovation Centres, led by The Data Lab in collaboration with Digital Health and Care Institute (DHI) and Precision Medicine Scotland.
Steph Wright, Director of Health & Wellbeing Engagement at The Data Lab, added: “Those who have experienced cancer first-hand as a patient, carer or friend, know there can be side effects following treatment, from physical pain to ongoing feelings of anxiety and depression and while these symptoms alone might not warrant a call to the GP, they do negatively impact a patient’s experience of cancer.
“By taking a patient-led approach to symptom tracking, health practitioners are given a clearer picture of the ways in which treatment impacts individuals, providing an opportunity to tailor care and to improve quality of life.”