Mar 23, 2017 | Atlanta, GA
The Georgia Institute of Technology has received a generous donation of 77 smartphones and tablets from Verizon as part of a partnership to improve breast cancer patient experience. Powered by Verizon’s largest and most reliable 4G LTE network, the devices will be used to help researchers develop a personalized and adaptive support tool for breast cancer patients.
MyPath is a mobile application designed to guide patients on their cancer journey in a holistic way. Researchers will download the app onto the tablets and distribute them to recently diagnosed cancer patients at the Harbin Clinic in Rome, Georgia. MyPath provides information on treatment, health and wellbeing, and social and emotional support, while on-tablet surveys help to tailor the app to each user’s day-to-day concerns like side effects from treatment, or childcare and transportation needs. The app then provides specific resource recommendations filtered from a vast online collection. Researchers will use feedback from app users to understand how it influences patient experiences and engagement.
“We are demonstrating the ability for mobile devices to improve the cancer care experience by offering individuals personalized support and information, helping them manage side effects, communicate with their health providers and find local support within their community,” said Maia Jacobs, whose dissertation research focuses on the design and evaluation of MyPath in the Georgia Tech Human-Centered Computing PhD program.
“Pairing Verizon’s award-winning network with Georgia Tech’s elite research team is the latest in a long tradition of industry-university partnerships with the shared goal of developing and studying technologies that empower people from all walks of life,” said Roger Tang, president – Southeast Market for Verizon. “We are proud to be a part of the important work being done to improve the experience of breast cancer patients and survivors.”
The tablets also give patients a sense of privacy. Instead of carrying a binder that’s often identified as containing cancer information, patients receive discreet devices. Participants in the MyPath study can use the tablets for personal activities – reading, games, or browsing the internet, and will keep them at the conclusion of the study.
“That allows them to continue to use the health tools even after they complete treatment, which is so important for something like cancer because many challenges continue even after treatment ends,” said Jacobs.
The MyPath project is funded by the National Cancer Institute. Elizabeth Mynatt, Distinguished Professor in the College of Computing and Principal Investigator for the project explains, “We are excited to be on the forefront of personalized cancer care. Removing barriers to care and supporting patients throughout a difficult journey can go a long way to improving cancer care into survivorship.”