Home » Oncology » Adding a new digital health dimension to cancer support

Badri Nath Wadawadigi

Associate Vice President, Head of Growth Initiatives, Accord Healthcare

Badri Wadawadigi, Associate Vice President, Head of Growth Initiatives, Accord Healthcare, explains how digital technology and apps can support cancer patients.

Q. Why is there value in an app for cancer patients?

We know the pandemic has increased feelings of isolation for some cancer patients. They may not have had the same opportunities to talk to their oncologists face-to-face or the ability to check their symptoms as regularly with a healthcare professional. We wanted to develop a source of support that focused on day-to-day physical and emotional symptoms, which is what patients tell us are the things they spend the most time worrying about.

An app (and the information and advice it offers) is always accessible, no matter whether it is night or day. That ‘always ready and available’ nature of a digital platform is a key advantage over a phone helpline or in-person clinic.

Q. What are the benefits of community-based cancer experts?

We designed Unify Health to not just be an app but act as an easy way to connect with a local pharmacist such those who have committed to the Community Cancer Champion Charter, who can talk to you about your cancer care and other matters that living with cancer raises.

By providing additional practical training to pharmacists, we can empower them to feel ready and confident to answer questions from patients in their local communities.

Q. How are community pharmacists being recruited and trained?

We are inviting all community pharmacists to become a Community Cancer Champion if they are ready to commit to further helping cancer patients, by pledging to a Charter. We’ll be working with pharmacies, NHS bodies and professional organisations to help get this message out to pharmacists. We want community pharmacists to feel empowered and confident when talking to patients about the treatments they are receiving in hospitals and what steps patients can take to help manage symptoms.

We are inviting all community pharmacists to become a Community Cancer Champion if they are ready to commit to helping cancer patients.

The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust helped to create a curriculum of practical training to community pharmacists on how to talk to, and assist, cancer patients, particularly around managing symptoms and worries. This curriculum is being delivered through an interactive digital platform that is easy to use and bite-size. Pharmacists are busy people and may only have a learning between consultations.

Q. Why is it called Unify Health?

Unify Health is not just a brand, it’s our mission statement. Undergoing cancer treatment can be bewildering, it can be difficult to make sense of all the different things you might find on the internet, and all the different appointments, medications and symptoms and the many professionals and carers who interact with you. We want to start to connect these dots, to provide a single place to help pull the many threads of your treatment journey together. The idea is to make it a little easier to manage the day-to-day experience of living with cancer.

Unify Health has been devised by experts from the healthcare industry working with hospitals, community pharmacists, clinicians, nurses, patient groups and charities to make support and advice more readily available to cancer patients. It provides a toolkit of tailored advice and information, plus a map to connect them with nearby local community pharmacists.

Unify Health is available on both the Android and Apple app stores. You can download it from www.UnifyHealth.app

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