Smartphone technology is now entering the operating room, allowing ovarian cancer surgeons in B.C. to use an application to store and track information in a database.

The smartphone app was spearheaded by Dr. Sarah Finlayson, a surgeon and researcher with the Ovarian Cancer Research Program at the B.C. Cancer Agency and the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority.

The app itself was developed by at team the Cheryl Brown Ovarian Outcomes Unit.

Finlayson said as soon as an ovarian cancer procedure is finished, surgeons can pick up their smartphones and enter all the information about the case in about five minutes.

"Basically it's quick, accurate, easy to use and replaces what was previously a time consuming, costly chart review," said Finlayson.

The application eliminates a long chart-review process where doctors had to fill out the forms before manually entering the information into a computer, a process that took at least one hour.

The data can then be used in cancer research.

The pilot program for the two-year project has just been completed and a second version of the app will now be up and running.

Finlayson said now money spent on time and staff to catalogue the information can be used in other ways.

The patient data is secured and then available for leading-edge ovarian cancer research initiatives.

Donation aided development

A donation to the B.C. Cancer Foundation from Doug Gray, whose wife survived a rare former of ovarian cancer, is being credited in part for the development of the smartphone application.

Gray donated $130,000 and asked the B.C. Cancer Foundation to find someone to match his donation for a total of $260,000 towards ovarian cancer research.

Gray said the province's ovarian cancer research work is among the world's best and this new app will make it better in terms of data processing and sharing.

"From my viewpoint B.C. is so stellar in this regard because of the way it's set up ..." said Gray. "All I did was (be) an enabler."

A self-described hard-nosed business man, Gray said he wanted to see the results from the project to which his donation went, and was not disappointed.

"By the time I went through that whole project of satisfying myself, my comfort zone was enhanced 100 fold," he said.

Finlayson said there is currently no plan to use the system outside of British Columbia, but wider use of the app is something the unit would be open to exploring.