This week CancerPal had the absolute pleasure of meeting Dr. Anne Bruinvels the brains behind the revolutionary OWise App. Anne is passionate about improving the experience of cancer patients and believes that the OWise App can help in many ways. The app is completely free to use so if you or your loved one is currently going through breast cancer, read on to find out more.
Getting to know OWise: the personalised breast cancer app
Already used by thousands, OWise is a personalised cancer support app to help patients regain control of their life from the first day of diagnosis. It has been designed to empower patients with personalised information and self-management tools. OWise provides the user with personalised medical information, as well as a tailored list of questions to help prepare for doctors’ consultations. Users can actively monitor the treatment’s side-effects and share progress with the care team and loved ones. Similarly, a carer can use OWise on behalf of the patient to support themself as well as the patient.
What is the story behind OWise?
The idea behind OWise began to take shape when Dr. Anne Bruinvels, a pharmacist and biomedical scientist by training, was working as the Executive Director at the European Personalised Medicine Association. She realised that even though more and more personalised cancer therapies were reaching the market, the experience of patients needing these treatments was not improved. Patients were finding it very hard to understand why certain treatments were prescribed to them and others were not.
During this time, Anne spoke to a friend diagnosed with breast cancer and realised that cancer patients’ experience following diagnosis is much poorer than it needs to be and realised how traumatised she was by the lack of information about her treatments on top of the continuous fear she was living with. This was Anne’s lightbulb moment where she decided to focus the next part of her career on improving cancer patients’ experience and outcomes using mobile technology and data science.
“In a time where technology is fully embedded in our daily lives, I wondered why there were no smart, digital tools to support cancer patients during their treatment”- Dr. Anne Bruinvels
At that time, she started to have conversations with her brother David, an oncology specialised physician that supports patients returning to work. He was also the driver of the breast cancer rehabilitation clinic at the Netherlands Cancer Institute. He witnessed that many of his breast cancer patients were desperately asking for support, often pointing at their smartphones. It was clear that they should link up and tackle breast cancer first.
Px HealthCare, the company behind OWise, was founded in 2012 to improve patient experience by informing and supporting patients in a personalised manner throughout their treatment and recovery. The name of OWise came from the words Oncology and Wise. Although it was initially called OncoWise, the name changed to OWise as patients did not want to have anything related with oncology on their mobile phones.
After initially launching OWise in the Netherlands, Anne brought the app to the UK in 2016 through the NHS Innovation Accelerator Programme. The app has now been used by thousands across the country and is actively recommended by many NHS medical professionals. In addition, after listening extensively to feedback from users, a new version of OWise was recently launched, and will be expanded to other cancers in the near future.
“OWise is a great app and was hugely useful during my treatment. It was recommended to me by my oncologist, and I am really glad I chose to use it. I would frequently refer back to it when I had to discuss my health with nurses or doctors and without the app I don’t think I’d have been as aware of trends and side effects.” - OWise user feedback.
What does the OWise app offer?
OWise provides patients with personalised information based on their diagnosis and treatment plan to empower and inform them. By answering some profile questions, patients and carers can get access to personalised content such as a treatment report with a detailed explanation of their diagnosis and treatment options. Although the app has been designed for patients, carers can use it to support their loved ones and access the right information. Moreover, to further help with their understanding, the app creates a tailored list of suggested questions to ask oncologists or breast cancer nurses - improving communication between patients and care teams.
The app also allows patients and carers to track over 30 different side-effects and symptoms daily, allowing them to monitor any changes. Examples of these include fatigue, nausea, lymphoedema, hot flushes and sleep quality. Additionally, OWise helps users to get organised through storing appointments, prescriptions and doctor’s notes securely in one place. Having all this information at their fingertips can prevent unnecessary stress and worry about forgetting to bring everything in.
“In the timeline, I registered all my appointments. Keeping an overview of ongoing treatments was very difficult with so many different doctors and appointments, but the app helped me to keep that overview, which made me feel in control.” - OWise user feedback.
How is OWise different from other apps?
OWise allows patients to share their well-being data via a secure link. This can allow medical teams, carers and loved ones to better understand patients’ side effects and symptoms in order to deliver the best care possible.
“I used the OWise app to record daily stats throughout my primary diagnosis & treatment. It was invaluable for helping my care team to review any changes in my treatment & effects. It took all my fear away.” - Sheila, OWise User (53).
Furthermore, OWise has been successfully integrated into the hospital's electronic record system of NHS Lothian in Scotland. This means that if the patient agrees clinicians can monitor their side effects and toxicities in real time. We are currently working on bringing this service to other hospitals around the UK and eventually the world.
Lastly, OWise has been validated and accredited: it is NHS Digital approved, used as a case study by NICE and it was demonstrated that 90% of patients and clinicians would recommend them to other patients. In addition to this, OWise is currently undergoing a randomised controlled trial at the Royal Marsden hospital.
How is the new version of the app different?
The new app has been designed on the back of extensive user feedback, with a focus on patient perspective. Px Healthcare has run more than a hundred patient workshops across the UK and regularly interacts with users to continuously improve and develop the app. The new version includes a new, fresh design, additional tools to track side effects and symptoms, as well as a refined user experience.
OWise is available to download for free on the iOS App Store and Google Play. If you want to learn more about OWise you can watch this video or head to the Owise website. We are always looking to further improve the app, so if you want to get involved or have any questions you can get in touch through the website or social media channels.
Twitter - https://twitter.com/OWise_uk
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/owise.app/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/owiseapp/