- right from the diagnosis to
treatment and surgery. The app runs on a tablet computer and the information
available on it gets regularly updated based on the patient's progress. For
example, if a patient is scheduled for surgery,
will help them with what they need to know the day before.
Mynatt, Distinguished Professor in the School of Interactive Computing at
Georgia Tech and Executive Director of the Institute for People and Technology
is the principal investigator of the research. Speaking about the effectiveness
of the app, Dr. Mynatt said, "Patients
have told us, 'It just seemed to magically know what I needed'."
In holistic cancer care, the MyPath app, with the use of AI, is the first
that is capable of personalization, believes Dr. Mynatt.
The app is
capable of addressing a range of relevant issues like social and emotional
needs of patients in addition to incorporating their medical data.
will be presenting her work at the annual meeting of the American Association
for the Advancement of Science on February 15, 2019.
Recognition in the U.S
consortium of around 100 institutions worldwide (including Georgia Tech),
dedicated to advancing the information field, recognized MyPath
in January. The 2019 iSchools Doctoral Dissertation Award
has been presented to Maia Jacobs, a Ph.D. from Georgia Tech for developing MyPath
in her dissertation research.
Jacobs' work, "The Award Committee felt
[that Jacobs' work] was timely and important, and lauded its impact on how patients
manage their health"
the iSchools mentioned.
Currently, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, Jacobs is exploring the option of
to other diseases.
In 2016 the
research was honored when it featured in a report to President Barack Obama by
the President's Cancer Panel. A Georgia Tech story, back at the time commented
that the report, 'Improving Cancer-Related Outcomes with Connected Health,'
aimed to "Help patients manage their health information and participate in
their own care."
Inception of the App
of the app had begun six years ago when Dr. Mynatt and her team were working
with the Harbin Clinic in Rome, Georgia. "They
have a tremendous program in holistic cancer care where they recognize that
their patients, who are from a larger rural area, face a variety of challenges to be able to successfully
navigate the cancer journey,"
Dr. Mynatt observed.
and cancer navigators at the Harbin were looking for superior ways to stay
connected to the patients on a regular basis. The navigators, who guide
patients through the cancer journey, realized that the interactions with
patients were very frequent at the diagnosis stage, but lessened over time.
Because of this a lot of information available with the navigators, for
example, about lowering anxiety, remains uninformed to the patients.
"We wondered how technology could amplify what
these great people are doing,"
said Dr. Mynatt.
How Does MyPath Work
At the onset,
a mobile library of resources compiled from the American Cancer Society and
certain other highly regarded organizations is available in the
app. It is then personalized with each patient's diagnosis and treatment
, also including dates for specific procedures. Patients are also
provided with the option to complete surveys regularly that would help the
system as well as the caregivers to understand their changing needs and
a system that is capable of providing resources and suggestions specific to
personal situations becomes available to all patients. For example, a patient
with stage 2 breast cancer
scheduled to undergo lumpectomy on a
specific date, will be suggested relevant articles to prepare for the surgery
by clicking the category 'Preparing for
patient who has reported nausea in the system's survey will find a set of
resources that can help combat the side effect. Quick access to contact
information for specific caregivers is also available on the app.
This level of
personalization is not available on the internet or other apps. Hence a patient
may have to browse through a huge volume of complex, technical information that
may be irrelevant. On the other hand, "Every
day MyPath puts the right resources at your fingertips to help you through your
says Dr. Mynatt.
Going Beyond Medical
features of the MyPath
and 'Day to Day Matters'
are some of its most popular options that are frequently used by patients. "When we asked them about how they used the
tablet for healthcare, many patients would talk to us about playing Angry
Birds, which they would download to distract them during chemo sessions,"
Dr. Mynatt remarked.
Based on the
feedback from MyPath's
the My Journey Compass
including the personalization have been made in this second generation version.
The team, hoping to expand the use of the app to cancer survivors faced with
additional challenges like hormone replacement therapy, is an example of
continued developments in the research. The team is also working on
designing a downloadable version of the app for individual patients,
would make it available for many more users.