Dr. Iltifat Husain’s physician take on the use of this novel therapy is at the end of this article

AstraZeneca and Voluntis have joined forces to create a medical app specifically designed to monitor the hypertension and diarrhea frequently encountered by ovarian cancer patients who take the investigational drug combination of cediranib and olaparib. The eCO study app provides secure capture of side effects data from patients and transmits it to their healthcare providers for analysis and feedback.

The medical app, which is not available to the general public, also offers advice to patients on how to manage their symptoms, recommendations that the developers say are “the same as directions that physicians provide patients as part of routine clinical practice.”

The digital support service is designed for women who are receiving treatment for recurrent platinum-sensitive high-grade ovarian cancer in clinical trials with the aforementioned drugs. The program is being tested as part of three clinical studies supported by the National Cancer Institute and that are part of an effort by AstraZeneca to “focus on understanding the patient journey when developing therapeutic solutions. The service will also serve as a pilot within AstraZeneca’s broader strategy of using digital technology to complement treatment and to improve patient outcomes.”

Voluntis, AstraZeneca’s partner in this study, works in medical application technology, creating companion software that offers coaching software to engage patients and change behavior and track symptoms and quality of life. And as the eCO study app illustrates, it also offers bidirectional data flow that fosters collaboration and coordination of patient care.

Web services and medical apps that help cancer patients understand and manage their treatment have been gaining traction in recent years. For example, when Irish investigators queried 200 symptomatic breast patients about the best way to reach them, 59% favored web sites. When patients were asked to rate the usefulness of various types of media, print remained the first choice, followed by phone, web site, email, text, and apps.

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Dr. Iltifat Husain’s take:

This is the first instance I can recall of a medical app being used to monitor two key specific side effects of a cancer drug therapy. Both oral agents, cediranib and olaparib, have antitumour activity in women with recurrent ovarian cancer. You can read more about the study in a Lancet publication. It’s very exciting to see drug companies using mobile apps to monitor for specific side effects and tracking study results with this. As we’ve seen recently with the Aspirin Guide app and the HEART pathway app — mobile medical apps are being launched in conjunction with published research — helping make translation research a reality.