Fatigued Cancer Patients’ Voices Inspire Patient Support App

Listening to patient needs led to development of a new app that could support individuals undergoing cancer treatment and improve their quality of life. The first app of its kind to be listed on Great Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) Library, Untire offers cancer patients a new way to tackle one of the most common side effects of treatment: fatigue.

The fatigue that can be associated with cancer treatment reduces quality of life for many patients already going through a harrowing process. Though cancer-related fatigue is fairly common, there is “a lack of awareness amongst patients and providers,” according to an article in PharmaTimes online.

Patient-centricity supports progress.

The company behind the app, Tired of Cancer, was founded on a patient-centric mindset. While working with cancer patients at the Helen Dowling Institute (HDI), the founders came to learn how much the disease, the treatments and the emotional and social impact of the illness tired out patients.

By interacting with and learning from cancer patients, Tired of Cancer’s founders realized that they could address fatigue. They closely followed their patients, not just during a particular treatment, but throughout the entire disease journey. They first developed a successful face-to-face group intervention, but wanted to be able to offer the intervention to a larger group. They moved the training online and found that 85% of patients benefited, paving the way to take the intervention to the next level. 

Untire provides effective patient support.

They describe the Untire appas “an effective, easy-to-use, self-management tool for the treatment of cancer-related fatigue.” The app works by using “insightful themes, such as sleep, anxiety, setting limits … physical exercises to build strength, activities to reduce stress, and tips to improve mood… [aiming to] help users gain better control of their energy levels by getting and keeping them mentally and psychologically active.”

The development team included researchers, cancer specialists and, most importantly, cancer patients.The NHS’s recent approval of Untire was “based on trial results that initially found that the Untire app significantly reduces fatigue while increasing happiness amongst users, with further results to be published in late 2019,” according to PharmaTimes.

Patients will tell you what they need.

Ideas like Untire wouldn’t exist without patient input, demonstrating the importance of listening to patients when it comes to developing new treatments and support programs.  What started as a small online training program to address something often overlooked during the cancer journey has now evolved into a widely accessible format—because  Untire’s developers listened to patient voices.

How are you deciding on new patient support programs for your medications—and could you be doing more?

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Case Study: Optimizing a Patient Support Program