"There's an App for That"

January 4, 2010
Lisa Schulmeister

iPhone® technology becomes a component of oncology care.

®

®

Nearly everyone seems to have an iPhone these days and hundreds of applications, or "apps" as they are called in television commercials, have been developed for the iPhone and iPod touch. There are "apps" for locating points of interest, "apps" for playing games, and now, even an "app" that allows patients to track their chemotherapy schedule and record side effects. The iChemoDiary is a downloadable application compatible with the iPhone, iPod touch, and desktop computers.

®

After patients download the free application (available at iTunesor at iChemoDiary.com), they enter the names of their chemotherapy agents and other medications. A calendar feature is used to track eight common side effects (nausea, vomiting, fever, fatigue, rash, constipation, diarrhea, and tingling in hands and feet). Patients can send their reports to their healthcare providers via email or print the reports and take them to the next visit.

The application is easy to use and the generation of reports that show daily entries is very helpful in better understanding a patient's side effects, identifying when they occur, and how they change over time. Some of the limitations are that this application only works with certain cellular phones (or requires a computer), has a limited number of tracked side effects, and requires patient adherence to monitoring and data entry. Some clinicians also are concerned about privacy of health information since the side effects report may be emailed to healthcare providers.

It will be interesting to see if this technology will catch on with patients undergoing chemotherapy, or if too many barriers exist to its widespread implementation. As one patient put it, it's much easier to just jot down side effects on a wall calendar and bring the calendar to the doctor's office.