National Cancer Institute awards grant for app
Rutgers researchers are working on an app that would deal with one of the most difficult aspects of cancer: surviving.
Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey research member Shawna Hudson was recently awarded a $3.2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to develop and test out a comprehensive program that aims to study and help improve the health management needs of cancer survivors.
A part of her research includes developing a smartphone app for cancer survivors, said Hudson, an associate director for research at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
More than 13 million cancer survivors live in the United States, according to a news release from the National Cancer Institute, and the number of long-term survivors, or those who concluded treatment two or more years ago, is increasing.
About 70 percent of these survivors develop or already have other health issues that cancer treatment can affect, according to the news release.
By 2050, the growth rate for cancer survivors is expected to outpace the growth rate for new cancer cases. Such projections call for a more comprehensive approach to helping this population better understand their healthcare needs and become more proactive in managing those needs, Hudson said.
“The problem with many health care programs is that people get the right care, they just don’t get their testing done at the right intervals.” Hudson said.
Hudson said previous work on a website for prostate cancer survivors helped to inspire her. She wanted to create a way to translate that experience to something portable that patients can take with them to the doctor’s office.
“Many other apps that do this kind of tracking aren’t very dynamic,” Hudson said. “Our goal is to provide a user friendly platform that can track all kinds of things like which and when patients had certain tests or appointments. We’re trying to help cancer survivors communicate better with their doctors.”
Hudson’s team intends to use videos and interactive content to create a more intensive dynamic and better conversations between patients and their doctor.
“Right now the app is in the development stage,” Hudson said. “We haven’t actually started building it yet.”
The program’s development will be a part of a five-year process. NotSoldSeparately, a New Jersey-based company, is working on creating the app. Hudson said the corporation has developed technology for studies and programs for 15 years.
Hudson and her team intend to hold focus group interviews with both doctors and patients to make sure the app helps create the best experience, she said.
They then plan to roll the program out to a small group of about 480 patients selected from various local practices, she said. The participants are supposed to use and test the app and accompanying website to provide feedback to Hudson and her team.
After the program ends, data from this study is set to be used to help other programs and systems around the country to improve their own testing, studies and programs involving cancer survivors, Hudson said.