Allina Health Launches Mobile App for Breast Cancer Patients

Minneapolis-based Allina Health recently launched a mobile app called Cancer Connection with a symptom and drainage tracker that can help doctors identify patterns and trends with the disease, a curated learning library, a personalized to-do list and a notepad for patients to prepare questions. before appointments. Badrinath Konety, MD, president of Allina Health Cancer Institute, recently spoke with Healthcare innovation about how this new app is helping breast cancer patients on their journey.

Healthcare Innovation: I was looking at Allina’s website and it looks like they have a number of apps that they have developed internally for patients. Is that part of the organizational strategy: creating your own apps targeting specific patient populations?

Conety: Yes, to a certain extent, because it has been successful. We have a very good app for mothers and babies that works very well. And our heart group has an app. Patients find it useful, so we thought, let’s look at cancer. We did a build versus buy evaluation and there isn’t much available. I went to the app store to see what was there for cancer apps and found nothing backed by any major institution. Maybe they have internals but not something to download. Some of them cover care segments like information about support groups, but we wanted to create something that was more comprehensive.

HCI: With these other apps, has Allina had a good experience with patient activation and getting them to download and use them?

Conety: Yes, when we saw that they were gaining ground, it encouraged us to expand it. We actually did some focus group interviews with our cancer patients and they gave us feedback to tell us whether they would welcome something like that, but also what they need me to do.

HCI: With that feedback, did your team narrow down the features you wanted to include?

Conety: Yes. Most patients wanted educational content that was relevant to their cancer type. They wanted to be able to send messages to a provider, although we haven’t incorporated that yet. They wanted to schedule and conduct visits. They wanted a personalized care plan. We’ve also added goal setting and medication tracking. Clearly educational content was one of the main themes. To facilitate that, we collaborated with Wolters Kluwer to utilize their patient education tool that we use in our regular offerings with our online patient education that is integrated into Epic.

HCI: Do I need to get information from Epic in the app or send data to Epic from the app?

Conety: You are now not connected to Epic. In a future version, yes, we hope to do it, because there are certain things it would be useful for. For example, we have a symptom tracker and a drainage tracker, so a lot of times when patients are sent home with a catheter or something like that, they have to monitor the outcome. It would be good to include that information in your file that providers could access the next morning. Instead of the patient having to make a phone call, someone could keep track of these things and maybe others eventually, whether it’s blood pressure or other vital signs checks, if it’s integrated into the medical history, it will be more easy to track and document. that and so on. But we are not there yet.

HCI: You have started with breast cancer, but could there be personalized versions for other types of cancer?

Conety: Absolutely. The reason we chose breast cancer is because not only is it a very common cancer in general, but it represents the majority of our patient population. We have a large population of breast cancer patients and they are very media savvy. They have a great need and are very active users. So we thought we’ll try to address their needs first and do a beta version where we’ll get your feedback and make changes to fine-tune this before we start addressing the other cancers.

HCI: It is available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Could anyone get value from downloading it even if they are not an Allina patient?

Conety: I dont see why not. There is a lot of content, including these trackers, that you can use, but also educational information that is quite sophisticated.

HCI: You mentioned refining the app and perhaps moving on to creating apps for other types of cancer. We also talked about connecting to Epic and maybe getting more clinical data for follow-up. Anything else you want to do in the future with this?

Conety: Yes. One of the things we are looking to add is a caregiver view so caregivers can use the app. Caregivers have a lot of things to track, so it would be helpful. Is there a way to add a messaging feature? It may not be straightforward, but is there a way to receive faster notifications? Can appointment scheduling functionality be integrated into this? We already have automated programming, but you have to enter the portal.

HCI: Will you be tracking usage and feedback from patients and doctors about the usefulness of the app?

Konety: Yes. So far, we’ve had about 200 downloads in about three weeks. Clearly, there is growing interest and we haven’t made much of a marketing impact yet.

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