My Topol fellowship problem / project:

Cancer support apps have huge potential to facilitate personalised cancer care and improve cancer survivorship. However, there are no guidelines to suggest which apps are beneficial nor how best to implement them alongside routine care in the NHS. Some patients face digital inequalities, so it is crucial to understand barriers to accessing digital cancer support. Improved understanding of potential barriers to healthcare professional use is also needed to facilitate delivery of this technology to patients.

At Guy’s Cancer Academy, we are piloting the use of a cancer support app (Careology) to support patients treated for head and neck cancer. The app enables patients to monitor aspects of their health such as their symptoms, side effects, medications, mood, and wellbeing. Healthcare professionals are able to incorporate patient use of the app to inform their consultation with the patient. The aim of this project is to evaluate the implementation of Careology in patients with head and neck cancer, before extending to a wider population of patients at Guy’s Cancer Academy.

Workshops have been carried out to identify the training and education needs of both patients and their clinicians and to understand the potential barriers and facilitators. We are collating data on the uptake and use of the app. Patient and staff experience and satisfaction will be evaluated. We will also assess whether the app improves cancer workflows and leads to patient-centred consultations. The collaboration with Careology will enable further development of the app to meet user needs and optimise implementation.

I am an Academic Nurse Fellow at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. My role is to deliver and research a programme of digital health to support patients with head and neck cancer. This work also forms the basis of my PhD that I am undertaking at King’s College London. As a registered nurse, I have over 13 years of experience in the NHS, predominantly in clinical research roles. In addition to my clinical training, I have completed an NIHR-funded Master’s in Clinical Research, and a BSc in Psychology & Philosophy of Science. My interests include digital health, health behaviour change, and implementation science.