Doctors at Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor are testing a smart phone app as part of a clinical trial to help patients stay as safe as possible during their chemotherapy treatment.

Patients who have been invited to take part in the ‘Keep Me Safe’ trial are using the app to help them take the right steps if any complications occur during their treatment.

The bilingual app, designed by Caernarfon based digital agency Galactig, can be shared with the patient’s partner, carer or friend who can actively support their safety as they undergo treatment.

Glynnis Gaines, from Llandudno, who is currently undergoing chemotherapy after being diagnosed with cancer is using the app with her husband, Alan.

She said: “When I was asked if I wanted to take part in the trial I wasn’t too sure at first as I’m not very good with technology!

“I was pleasantly surprised with how easy the app is to use and it’s great that my husband can also have the app on his phone. He can make sure I’m using it every day to log how I’m feeling which really gives me reassurance during my treatment.”

Patients require to answer a set amount of questions through the app each day, such as if they are experiencing shortness of breath or have any chest pains, and an alert goes to their chosen ‘buddy’ to notify them that this has been logged.

The app was designed by Derick Murdoch, from Galactig, who developed the app to help his mother who was undergoing chemotherapy. He said: “Shortly after my mother was diagnosed with cancer, we began working on the app.

“During the development I was able to utilise one of its core concepts – that ‘patient safety is a network’.

“Remotely doing checklists enabled me to take part in my mothers’ care despite her being hundreds of miles away.”

Dr Anna Mullard, Consultant Medical Oncologist on Alaw Ward at Ysbyty Gwynedd, said she has received positive feedback from the patients taking part in the trial so far.

She said: “Here in Alaw we take part in numerous clinical trials, some of which are implemented into general practice and some are not depending on the outcome of the study results.

“So far this trial currently offers the app to 50 patients and we have received positive feedback from those who are using it.

“This app helps to identify whether patients need to seek help if they experience any complications with chemotherapy, which many patients do.

“Friends and family are often able to identify when their loved one may be not themselves and this app can help them know when to call for help and come into hospital.

“The Keep Me Safe study gives us an opportunity to explore whether this kind of technology will benefit patients and their carers.”

Consultant Physician and Senior Clinical Lecturer in Acute & Critical Care Medicine at the School of Medical Science at Bangor University, Dr Chris Subbe, who has been a key figure in driving new technology into healthcare at Ysbyty Gwynedd is also part of the study.

Dr Subbe, the Principal Investigator of the study, said: “Cancer treatments can be scary and many will have some side effects.

“It is already common practice for doctors and nurses to check side effects of cancer treatment with patients but researchers at the Alaw Unit are now expanding this to allow patients and their carers to be more aware of the possible side effects when they are at home.

“Technology plays an increasing role in healthcare and this app is helping us work together with patients to try and keep them safer during their treatment.”
The app has been made possible through funding by Tenovus Cancer Care who are pleased to hear patients are responding well to the study.

Dr Tim Banks, Tenovus Cancer Care Head of Research, said: “Through the research we fund we aim to find new ways to diagnose cancer, better ways to treat it, and to make life easier for people living with cancer today.

“We are very pleased to hear such positive early feedback for the ‘Keep Me Safe’ app and look forward to the full results following the completion of the research.”

In order to celebrate this study a gathering with patients, families, researchers and technology companies will be held at Riechel Hall in Bangor on May 23rd and May 24th.

“We are really looking forward to the event this month, with one of the stars of the program being Elin Haf Davies, a former paediatric nurse who rowed across the Atlantic and has set up her own company that helps research for patients with rare conditions,” added Dr Subbe.

For further information about the event and to book your ticket visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/patient-powered-safety-understanding-challenges-designing-better-care-tickets-53515870409

Photos: Clinical Research Specialist Nurse Wendy Scrase and Dr Chris Subbe who are part of a team carrying out the clinical study ‘Keep Me Safe’.
(Image 2) The app, designed by Galactig in Caernarfon and funded by Tenovus, sets a reminder every day to ask patients how they are.