New app to be a buddy to cancer patients

Professor Chng Wee Joo, director of the National University Cancer Institute, Singapore, making a speech at a fundraising gala dinner in Shangri-la Hotel, on Nov 8, 2018.
Professor Chng Wee Joo, director of the National University Cancer Institute, Singapore, making a speech at a fundraising gala dinner in Shangri-la Hotel, on Nov 8, 2018.PHOTO: NATIONAL UNIVERSITY CANCER INSTITUTE, SINGAPORE
(From left) Assoc Prof Thomas Loh, Deputy Director (Clinical), NCIS, Mr Chua Song Khim, Deputy Chief Executive, National University Health System (NUHS), Prof John Eu-Li Wong, Chief Executive, NUH,  President Halimah Yacob, Professor Chng Wee, direct
(From left) Assoc Prof Thomas Loh, Deputy Director (Clinical), NCIS, Mr Chua Song Khim, Deputy Chief Executive, National University Health System (NUHS), Prof John Eu-Li Wong, Chief Executive, NUH, President Halimah Yacob, Professor Chng Wee, director of NCIS, Mr Foo Hee Jug, Deputy Chief Executive of NUHS and Prof Goh Boon Cher, Deputy Director (Research) of NCIS.PHOTO: NATIONAL UNIVERSITY CANCER INSTITUTE, SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - From tracking their medical appointments to getting cancer-related advice on the spot, cancer patients will soon be able to do all this and more with the help of a new mobile app developed by the National University Cancer Institute, Singapore (NCIS).

Powered by artificial intelligence technology, the app is designed to support patients in all their cancer-related needs, and is the first holistic app for cancer patients here.

Announcing its launch at the institute's fund-raising gala dinner on Thursday (Nov 8), NCIS director, Professor Chng Wee Joo, said: "It's like a buddy for patients, a buddy to follow them and be with them throughout their cancer journey."

Apart from monitoring the patient's condition, and keeping track of appointments and medication schedules, the app also provides customised advice to patients in areas such as diet, exercise, and medical procedures. It can also answer cancer-related questions from patients, through a chatbot.

Prof Chng hopes the app will empower patients to take better care of themselves, as they will have information that allows them to feel more involved and responsible for their condition.

The app will be made available to 200 breast and colorectal cancer patients by the second quarter of next year, and there are plans to roll this out to more, said Prof Chng.

This is just one of the new initiatives that the NCIS has embarked on in celebration of its 10th anniversary this year, he said. Another new initiative is the "home stem cell transplant system", which allows stem cell transplant patients to be cared for at home after the transplant procedure, instead of in hospital, he said.

Under this system, trained nurses are sent to the patient's home to check on him or her thrice a week. Trial sessions started in January this year. This option is now available to all patients undergoing autologous stem cell transplants, which involve transfusions of the patient’s own stem cells, and are a common treatment for blood cancers such as multiple myeloma.

Former cancer patient Yeo Wee Lee, 44, said the new system allowed him to recuperate in the comfort of his own home. Mr Yeo, who is married with one son, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma last July and underwent a stem cell transplant in January. He was the first patient to try out the new system.

"It's just much better being at home; it's cleaner, there's less risk of infections, and it's a nicer place to rest overall," said Mr Yeo, who works in the healthcare sector.