The multidisciplinary, theory-based co-design of a new digital health intervention supporting the care of oesophageal cancer patients

Digit Health. 2021 Sep 28:7:20552076211038410. doi: 10.1177/20552076211038410. eCollection 2021 Jan-Dec.


Objective: Oesophageal cancer patients have complex care needs. Cancer clinical nurse specialists play a key role in coordinating their care but often have heavy workloads. Digital health interventions can improve patient care but there are few examples for oesophageal cancer. This paper aims to describe the multidisciplinary co-design process of a digital health intervention to improve the experience of care and reduce unmet needs among patients with oesophageal cancer.

Methods: A theory-based, multi-disciplinary, co-design approach was used to inform the developmental process of the digital health intervention. Key user needs were elicited using mixed methodology from systematic reviews, focus groups and interviews and holistic need assessments. Overarching decisions were discussed among a core team of patients, carers, health care professionals including oncologists and cancer clinical nurse specialists, researchers and digital health providers. A series of workshops incorporating a summary of findings of key user needs resulted in the development of a minimum viable product. This was further refined after a pilot study based on feedback from end users.

Results: The final digital health intervention consists of a mobile app feature for patients and carers connected to a dashboard with supporting additional features for clinical nurse specialist. It contains a one-way messaging function for clinical nurse specialists to communicate with patients, functions for patients to record weight and holistic need assessment results which could be viewed by their clinical nurse specialists as well as a library of informative articles.

Conclusions: The multidisciplinary co-design of a digital health intervention providing support for oesophageal cancer patients and health care professionals has been described. Future studies to establish its impact on patient outcomes are planned.

Keywords: Digital health General; cancer; digital; disease; gastroenterology; general; medicine; oncology; technology.