Cancer care app’s range of tools wowing clinicians
Cancer care is growing globally as new treatments emerge and populations age. At the same time, waiting lists are growing across healthcare systems.
Oncology professionals face significant barriers to delivering efficiencies in patient care due to the scarcity of hospital resources and access to validated information and tools needed for clinical decision-making.
This is where ONCOassist comes in. The smartphone app is helping cancer care clinicians save time with its range of tools which enable them to make faster decisions at the point of care.
As well as saving time, the app can improve quality of care by providing clinicians with the information they need to make speedier diagnostic and treatment decisions with its content comprising of comprehensive medical information, complex calculations, clinical tools and validated medical guidelines.
The innovative app, which has doubled its active global users to 12,000 in the past 12 months, was initially developed as part of a university project.
Co-founders Kevin Bambury and Eoin O’Carroll were participating on the master’s Electronic Business at UCC, and Mr Bambury’s brother Richard was working as a specialist registrar in CUH when a conversation about the time being wasted in online searches by oncology clinicians sparked the idea for an app.
“We talked about ideas, and we were very interested in digital health and helping improve the efficiency in the healthcare service – not just in Ireland but globally,” Mr Bambury said.
The app’s features include calculators and tools, drug information and interaction checker, toxicity criteria and adjuvant tools. A prognostic scoring tool using a series of questions based on clinical papers cuts down a task from minutes to seconds.
In 2016, ONCOassist was granted a licence to add PREDICT breast cancer tool, which helps patients and their doctors make better-informed decisions about treatment following breast cancer surgery.
The app saves the clinician an estimated one hour a day in searching for clinical papers and formulas online. The figure is a global average which depends on access to resources, Mr Bambury says.
Having taken part in the IGNITE programme at UCC, the team launched the first version of the app in early 2013. Shortly after launching, the company reached an early milestone, when the ONCOassist app received CE certification as a medical device, the third app in the world to do so.
Currently, 50% of oncology doctors and nurses in the UK and Ireland are using the ONCOassist app, which has approximately 12,000 active users in more than 170 countries. Mr Bambury says that colleague referrals have driven much of the growth of its user base. Oncology professionals are part of small communities.
“When one person finds it useful, they share it on WhatsApp,” he said.
The app also had a boost in users from the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), which offers the app as part of its membership benefits. In early 2017, ONCOassist’s parent company, Portable Medical Technology, finalised a partnership with the European Oncology Nursing Society to make the app available to its members throughout Europe.
The app is available on Android, iOS and web for desktop is free for oncology professionals. Its revenue model is based on partnerships with pharmaceutical companies in the oncology area.
The company, headquartered in Killarney, reached the final of the C3 global oncology innovation contest in 2017.
Injections of funding have aided the development of the app and the growth of its userbase.
The team participated in Healthbox Europe accelerator in London in 2013 and received £75,000 in funding. This was followed by a grant of €50,000 from Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund.
Portable Medical Technology secured €324,000 in R&D funding from its participation in the Horizon 2020 DEIS project. Its partners include Siemens, General Motors and Dundalk Institute of Technology and the team is looking at how patient electronic health records can be integrated into hospital systems.