Leveraging real data to improve cancer patients' treatments

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What was the project background?

Moved by personal experiences caring for loved ones with cancer diagnoses, our team members experienced first hand the lack of real world patient data as a huge missed opportunity to improve patient care and accelerate cancer research. Our team  wondered if there was a way we could put to action our digital innovation and data capabilities in order to help patients manage their treatments by tracking physical and psychosocial symptoms. We thus decided to dedicate some of our time away from our typical client consulting work in order to develop a possible solution.

What was the big project question?

What if care teams had access to data that would help them improve their cancer patients' treatments?

What were the objectives?

  1. Design a solution that closes the gap between real-time symptoms tracking and treatment. 

  2. Reduce the amount of time in doctor appointments doing symptom screening and focusing more on treatment

  3. Alert medical teams of concerning events prior to ER visits or hospitalization

  4. Provide data for improved research on the effects of treatment on different patients

  5. Improve medical outcomes for patients

How did we work through the challenge?

User Research

We took time from our client work to learn about the patient and medical team experience in both Argentina and in the US, developing workshops, design sessions, spending time with patients, medical professionals, caregivers and others to design an application that not only was easy to use, but learned from the user and could identify adverse trends before they became a more serious issue.

Prototype

Along with input from hospitals and cancer centers, we developed the first prototype of Tela, a free mobile and web application that easily tracked patient-generated health data through validated physical and psychosocial measures and integrated it into clinical care and research. We tested the prototype with a cancer patient and her oncology team, and saw great improvements in her cancer treatment, such as appointments with doctors that were 20 minutes shorter than before, as well as 0 emergency visits to the hospital.  

App and website development

After the prototype, we scaled the benefits of Tela and developed both a free mobile and web application, refining the user experience and visual design. Its many features allow users to:  

  • Identify and manage high risk patients 
  • Improve efficiency and quality of symptom management and distress screening 
  • Inform appointments with at-a-glance snapshots
  • Use population data to inform planning and research 

Branding

As the app developed and its user base grew, so too did the brand. In 2018 we began a branding process where we developed a concept around metaphors of “fabric” and “thread” (“Tela” means “fabric” in Spanish and Latin) which then informed our design language and component library. We launched a new iteration of the mobile app, with the new branding, alongside our design for the care team-oriented web application.

What were the outcomes?

Tela integrated research-grade patient-generated health data into clinical care and research. Patient-generated health data was collected through validated physical and psychosocial measures and integrated into clinical workflow, allowing providers to review summary reports prior to patient appointments. The free app empowered patients to easily track their symptoms, medications, and psychosocial wellness to inform their care team, improve their treatment, and accelerate research. While the solution we developed focused on cancer, Tela has the possibility of being applied to different health treatments.