Remote cancer care app repurposed to monitor COVID-19 patients



A digital cancer care company has adapted its remote monitoring app to track the symptoms of COVID-19 patients.

 As the UK enters the second wave of coronavirus, digital technology is being harnessed to monitor patients while they self-isolate at home.

UK start-up Careology modified its digital cancer care platform over a 4-week period and will now be rolling out the app at the London General Practice, a private global medical practice with around 50,000 patients on its records.

Careology’s CEO, Paul Landau says the company is in conversation with a number of primary care providers and sees potential for the app being adopted by the NHS.

There is also potential for the digital tool to be extended for a range of different health conditions.

Landau says: “Clinicians are having to make a lot of judgement calls as to whether patients should be admitted to hospital or whether they are better off self-isolating at home, so we adapted the Careology Digital Cancer Care proposition to create Careology Connect.”

“We realise that we can adapt the technology for lots of different health conditions. COVID-19 is clearly one of them, but it could in time extend into any number of different conditions that need managing from afar, such as heart disease and diabetes.”

The app connects with Bluetooth wearable devices to automatically record users’ temperature, heart rate, weight, and activity levels. Users can also track the progression of COVID-19 symptoms and oxygen saturation, alerting their GP when symptoms are severe enough to warrant further medical attention.

Despite the tracking of COVID-19 symptoms being the app’s primary function, Careology does not want it to be labelled as a ‘COVID-19 app’. Instead, it says the platform is a tool to be used by GPs, helping them keep track of patients in real-time and make judgements about whether they should be admitted or recover at home.

Before the pandemic hit, Careology’s digital technology was used for tracking and managing the symptoms of people living with cancer.

Landau says: “Under its normal guise as a solution for digital cancer care, our platofrm is very much geared towards how people can monitor their symptoms, and how those symptoms can be seamlessly shared with a clinical team so they can make earlier interventions.

“It struck us as we saw the numbers starting to climb and the pressure being put on 111 back in March and April that we could quite quickly adapt Careology’s core technology to enable it to track COVID-19 symptoms and provide greater visibility to health care providers.

“At this time, as we’re entering the second wave, we definitely have technology here that could help large numbers of people be effectively managed, help healthcare providers remotely manage those people and prioritise patients according to their risk and health status.”

The pandemic has slowed the screening process for cancer, with an estimated peak of 2.4 million people waiting for cancer care earlier this year. As a result, Landau says a surge in later stage, more complex cancer diagnoses are on the horizon and digital health will play a significant role in dealing with this.

“The need to embrace technology and provide remote patient monitoring is going to become more important than ever. We’re going to have people on complex treatments, who will need to be managed in a very hands-on way, so I think the ability to leverage technology like Careology will be vital.”

“I think even the most conservative clinician over the last six months, has had no choice but to embrace technology. And our sincere hope is that they now recognise the benefits.

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