Introduction Advancing technology has led to the opening of new channels for communication and access to information. Accordingly healthcare must keep pace with our increasing desire for choice in how we receive, interact and learn if we are to continue to strive for higher standards of care.
In 2008, our group launched the first interactive DVD for patients with colorectal cancer, which described the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of patients at our unit. This project won several awards within the UK for innovation and has led to the creation of a series of four titles which have played an important role in patient counselling/staff education within our centre.
Following the feedback from this series, we were inspired to find avenues to widen the availability of these resources worldwide. This has led to the series being digitally enhanced and adapted as four interactive iOS apps currently available for worldwide download on tablet platform.
Method The online applications designed as part of this initiative are: -
1. Patient Journey – the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up when diagnosed with a bowel tumour’: An educational app designed to inform, demystify and prepare patients and carers with bowel cancer for the journey ahead.
2. ‘Enhanced Recovery after Surgery (ERAS) for major bowel surgery’: An app designed to explain the concepts and benefits of ERAS to patients prior to major bowel surgery.
3. ‘Colorectal’: An educational app designed to give exposure to students/junior trainees regarding the anatomical/surgical principles of common colorectal procedures.
4. ‘Stepwise Approach for Laparoscopic Colorectal Surgery’: An interactive app to assist colorectal consultants/trainee surgeons who wish to gain proficiency in laparoscopic colorectal surgery
Results Since our product launch in July 2014, there have been more than 5000 downloads worldwide. Downloads were noted across all world regions with 58% in the Asia-Pacific region, 26% in Europe and 12% in the USA and Canada. These applications are unique in that they contain extensive footage of real-life events coupled with surgical technique. This level of realism in the digital medium means the viewer can have many questions answered before their next consultation, resulting in a better informed patient ready for surgery.
Conclusion These applications exemplify how utilising technology can advance practice and improve patient experience by providing an interactive format where patients can explore and understand their condition. Our vision is that this model can be used/adapted for widespread use to supplement current methods of patient/staff education, bringing the way we communicate, counsel and train into the 21stcentury.
Disclosure of interest None Declared.