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  • Written by News Feature Team

A team of ambitious Sydney doctors have won crucial industry backing in their quest to raise the standard of doctor-patient communication in cancer hospitals.

Dr Nikhil Pooviah, Dr Raghav Murali-Ganesh and Dr Akshat Saxena have put their clinical careers on hold to develop an app that puts everything a cancer patient needs to know about their disease and treatment on their device. Patients can then easily share updates on their condition with family, friends and other treating doctors.

Called CancerAid, the project was selected from more than 300 applicants to receive business development funding and support through HCF’s Catalyst program. It is also keenly supported by Sydney’s world-class cancer treatment centre, the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

HCF Chief Executive Officer Shaun Larkin said: “As someone who has gone through the journey of cancer with a close family member, I can personally see exciting promise in CancerAid to deliver better outcomes for patients. We look forward to working with the team to make that promise a reality."

Already, more than 100 leading cancer clinicians have provided input into CancerAid’s content and design, to ensure the app contains all a patient and their caregiver needs, regardless of their cancer type or stage.

Lifehouse Chief Clinical Officer, Professor Michael Boyer AM, said: “The app will help patients understand and manage their care, and make their cancer journey smoother.

“It also has the potential to make the job of the treating clinician easier, by providing a source of patient-held information. If doctors have this readily available, they can spend more time focused on the patient’s needs and less time searching for information.”

CancerAid is the brainchild of Dr Nikhil Pooviah, who came up with the idea while working as a radiation oncology advanced trainee at Lifehouse. “Being diagnosed with cancer is a long, lonely and disorientating journey and we want to offer all manner of support possible,” Dr Pooviah said.

Dr Raghav Murali-Ganesh said the team was creating a gold standard for "prescribing" information to patients. 

“There is so much inconsistency in the way doctors speak with cancer patients. Some doctors are brilliant at explaining and drawing pictures, but unfortunately, that's not always the case. CancerAid will enable consistent, reliable, personalised cancer information.”

Dr Akshat Saxena said: “The ultimate goal of CancerAid is to improve patient outcomes, by helping patients cope with their disease and comply with their treatments.”

Cancer patient, Dominique Morency, 50, said: “I wish CancerAid had been available when I was diagnosed last year. My illness came upon me so quickly, I had no time to take all the information in.”

Ms Morency is the first patient to trial an iPad prototype of the app by developers PaperCloud. “CancerAid is perfect for helping patients manage their expectations, and so manage their stress,” she said.

The first 500 patients and carers who register at www.canceraid.com.au will receive an early version of the app before the official June 2016 launch.


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