Sister Anne Marie Wilkinson
Urology Nurse Specialist, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle
An innovative app has been designed for patients to record the severity of side effects from their bladder cancer therapy and shape their treatment plan.
Patients experience differing side effects from specialist therapy for bladder cancer. As a result, regular and accurate monitoring is crucial to support decisions on treatment progression for people with non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) receiving intravesical therapy, which delivers drugs direct to the disease site in the bladder.
Nurses in the north-east of England, however, were noticing that some patients were having difficulty remembering the specific details of side effects – such as severity – when asked to provide the information a few days after the treatment.
This, according to Urology Nurse Specialist Sister Anne Marie Wilkinson, has potentially serious consequences when it comes to making adjustments to treatment.
To counter this, an innovative app developed by medac Pharma has been designed to help patients accurately record their response to treatment and make the data available to clinical staff in a timely manner. “As nurses, if we have a better record of side effects, we can make more informed decisions about treatment progression,” she says.
As nurses, if we have a better record of side effects, we can make more informed decisions about treatment progression.
In her role at the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle, Sister Wilkinson administers intravesical treatments to patients in their own home. But she explains: “With some patients having difficulty remembering what had happened a week post event, I felt an app was the right way forward; it is a way of empowering patients to take control of their own monitoring.”
Patients download the app, with nursing assistance if required, then enter their details, the treatment and at what stage they are at in the cycle, with the data forwarded to Sister Wilkinson by email and available for her to review the following morning. It can also be scanned into a patient’s electronic health record for other clinicians to see.
As side effects predominantly occur between three- and 24-hours post treatment, patients get a phone reminder after 24 hours to fill in the symptom assessment log. “If the reaction has been severe, or particularly troublesome, I can ring the patient and offer support,” she adds.
“That gives the patient confidence and as a nurse it enables me to assess more accurately how significant the side effects have been and to make a timely intervention if required.” She says feedback from the app – which lists side effects from mild, moderate to severe – has been positive. She also believes it has to potential to be rolled out to patients across the UK.