Cancer patient spreads hope through technology
SPONSORED — For anyone, a cancer diagnosis comes as a shock, even to someone who works around patients every day. Such was the case for Debbie Berg, who, just four months into a contract-turned-full-time position at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma.
The cancer was caught during a routine physical, and after four months of chemotherapy, along with an autologous stem cell transplant, Berg’s cancer went into remission. A year of maintenance chemotherapy followed, and now Berg receives blood work and scans twice a year to make sure she’s still in the clear.
While her cancer has gone into remission, the experience is never far from Berg’s mind. In fact, her diagnosis set her on a journey to create an easier way for patients like herself to keep track of all their treatment plans, labs, symptom lists, procedure documentation, etc. For the duration of her treatment, Berg was accustomed to hauling around her heavy “chemo bag” of all her paperwork from appointment to appointment, not knowing whether her treatment would require platelets, transfusions, blood draws or if she’d be admitted to the hospital.
That’s when Dave Ackerson, chief information officer at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, asked Berg how her treatment was going. She responded by showing him her chemo bag. The response was well-timed, as Ackerson had been considering ways in which the center could use technology to improve the experience of its patients.
There’s an app for that
In a world where there’s an app for everything, cancer treatment is no exception. Between Berg, Ackerson and Brandon Jones, chief technology officer at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, a digital solution to Berg’s “chemo bag” was born.
“When we talked to patients and caregivers, we learned that cancer is confusing, and all the information is overwhelming,” said Brandon. “Our patients said they want help remembering what their doctors said; they need to be able to access information 24/7 and they want to be empowered to manage their care. They want a search capability so they can look up what to do if they have a fever and when they should call their care team.”
With these goals in mind, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance introduced Caresi™, the app specifically created for their patients.
A new tool for cancer patients
Thanks to the Caresi™ app, which hit the Apple App Store last October for SCCA breast cancer and leukemia patients — with more disease types currently in development — patients now have access to symptom trackers, lab results, notes, schedules and other information at their fingertips.
For Berg, working as the implementation manager of the Caresi™ app is particularly special. Celebrating six years of being cancer-free, her primary focus is now on introducing the app to those who need it the most — cancer patients just like her.