In need of cancer treatment? UAB has an app for that

By on March 5, 2014

If you have a family member or loved one suffering from cancer and looking for treatment options, look no further than the app store on your smartphone or tablet. A team of UAB faculty and students recently created a free app that helps patients and health care providers better connect with one another. The app can present over 500 resource options such as support groups, wig shops, prosthetic shops, and much more. Additional provisions from the app include an address and phone number for each resource along with an interactive map and website, the ability to save searched resources to a personal favorites list, and much more.

Recent cancer statistics shows a definite need for this app. The American Cancer Society estimates that 3720 patients were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 in Alabama. This is complemented with an incidence rate of 119.4 per every 100,000 people in Alabama. More locally, these numbers translate between 82.81 and 116.89 cases per 100,000 people in Jefferson and nearby counties.

With the above statistics well-researched, development of the app was launched and was the product of a truly multidisciplinary team. Dr. Debbie Walker, DNP, an assistant professor in UAB’s School of Nursing and leader of the project shares the details of the areas they reached out to in order to accomplish this goal.

“We engaged the Supportive Care and Survivorship Clinic, located within the Multidisciplinary Breast Health Clinic at The Kirklin Clinic, oncology nurses from the surrounding areas, and nursing students with an interest in oncology to develop an app that can be used by caregivers or patients to identify areas of distress for breast cancer patients,” Walker said.

The funding for the Cancer Resource app comes from the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham’s Women’s Breast Health Fund. Walker admits, however, that though the app was originally developed for use in breast cancer, a large number of its resources are not breast cancer specific and can help a wide range of cancer patients. Although the app can help a broad range of cancer patients, its area reach is not as strong. The app currently only services Blount, Jefferson, Shelby, Walker, and St. Clair counties, but Walker is optimistic and hopes that the app will grow to include more counties in Alabama and extend to other states.

Other UAB staff members on this team of developers include Larry Owen, a senior systems analyst and director of the Software Engineering and Prototyping Lab in the College of Arts and Sciences; and Matthew Jennings, a UAB School of Nursing instructional design specialist. The team also included students Jamal Harris and Amber Hardeman. Harris is a computer science major and developer in the Software Engineering and Prototyping Lab and Hardeman is a graduate student in the School of Public Health.

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