Care app for cancer patients |

Care app for cancer patients |

By Timothy Stein*

Greek researcher Pantelis Natsiavas is on a mission to redefine palliative care for people with cancer, using technology and with the help of EU funding and 16 health sector partners from across the country. Europe.

Together with his colleagues at the National Center for Research and Technological Development in Thessaloniki, P. Natsiavas coordinated an innovative initiative (the MyPal program) that has the potential to change the doctor-patient relationship forever by using digital platforms to improve quality care and therefore the quality of life of people affected by cancer. Providing high quality medical care is not just about prescribing drugs.

As the saying goes, knowledge is power, and how a patient is able to communicate with their doctor affects their well-being, as well as doctors’ ability to provide better care. We all deserve a long and healthy life and patients and caregivers deserve support.

Clinical tests

More than 200 adults and adolescents with cancer in five EU countries (Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy and Sweden) participated in clinical trials for just over two years using an application called MyPal, a tool digital platform that allows patients to communicate remotely with their doctors, learn about their disease, submit health data in real time and complete questionnaires.

More importantly, it gives physicians a more complete picture of a patient’s condition before they see them in person, contributing to more personalized and targeted care.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” enthuses P. Natsiavas. “We are still in the early stages of using digital in health, but this approach could be used for many chronic diseases, not just cancer. We need to conduct more clinical studies to have the evidence to present to governments in order to integrate them into health systems.”


Dr. Thomas Hatzikonstantinou has witnessed the benefits of using the technology first-hand – treating cancer patients at G. Papanikolaou General Hospital in Thessaloniki, one of two hospitals in Greece where clinical trials were conducted. He thinks one of the main benefits of the app is that it allows doctors to identify patient issues before a medical visit.

“It acts in addition to usual care, it does not replace it” explains Dr. Hadjikonstantinou. “Usually we see patients every three months and only for 10 minutes. But with the app, I could have instant access to information and use it to guide discussions with my patients. New knowledge and breakthrough innovations are helping us move faster towards a sustainable and prosperous world.”

As a repository of medical information, the application gathers data for each patient and acts as a memory bank, enabling the determination of vital patterns through built-in statistical and analytical functions and providing a quick and comprehensive overview of the patient’s state of health. So it’s not just a means of communication. It also resolves geographic imbalances by providing a direct healthcare solution to patients living in remote areas.

“Many patients said communication with their doctors had improved as a result of the trial,” Dr Hadzikonstantinou said. “In my opinion, a specialized application is essential, because it gives the complete picture, with all the information gathered in one place. And not only does it not add workload, it actually saves time because a lot of the condition assessment is done before the patient visit.”

A new way for patients to interact with healthcare teams

As it represents a new way for patients to interact with healthcare teams and for physicians to provide better services to these patients, there is no limit to its potential applications.

The trials also aimed to introduce a broader concept of palliative care itself, which people often interpret narrowly as the care people receive just before death, but which actually covers multiple approaches to optimizing support and the quality of life of people with serious illnesses.

P. Natsiavas and his colleagues in Thessaloniki are already planning the next steps with their European partners. “We have proven that these tools can be applied in the real world,” he says. “Now we want to expand the reach.”

European health research and innovation involves cross-border cooperation, the sharing of knowledge and resources and the joint improvement of health and care systems. Close collaboration between policy makers, researchers, health professionals and patients is an essential fundamental element.

* This article was originally published in Horizon, the EU’s research and innovation journal

Print edition “TA NEA”

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