Calgary

App helps cancer patients stay on top of complex conversations with doctors, AHS says

Officials introduced a new smartphone app in Calgary that’s designed to reduce the stress of doctors' appointments for Alberta cancer patients.

'When you get into a consult like that you can’t take everything in. And to have that on tape, it was awesome'

Cancer patient Cliff Roberts says the My Care Conversations app was very useful to him as a way to keep on top of all the complex information he needed to process on his first visit with his oncologist. (CBC)

Officials introduced a new smartphone app Wednesday in Calgary that's designed to help reduce the stress of doctors' appointments for Alberta cancer patients.

The My Care Conversations app allows patients to record the conversations they have with their doctors during medical appointments — stressful visits with lots of information that can easily get muddled.

Research shows that patients forget up to 80 per cent of the health-care information that's discussed during their clinic visits, Alberta Health Services says.

Mauro Chies, AHS vice-president in charge of CancerControl, says the app can help patients to better understand and recall details about their care plans.

"Patients and families have reported that clinic visits for cancer care can be very overwhelming and stressful," he said. "Large amounts of new information and words can often be unfamiliar or a bit daunting to patients."

Cliff Roberts, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer in August, was the first patient to download and use the app during his initial appointment at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.

"Both my wife and I thought it was an awesome idea," he said. "When you get into a consult like that, you can't take everything in. And to have that on tape, it was awesome, because we were able to go back after the initial interview and listen to it and get things out of it."

The app allows patients to take notes during the appointment and later share the recording with family and friends, or re-play it to help them remember complex details about treatment options or side-effect management.

AHS says the app is the first of its kind in Canada that is endorsed by a health-care organization.