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Accord Healthcare: New Digital Resource To Help Cancer Patients Manage Their Symptoms

Incorporating expert cancer information from Macmillan Cancer Support, Accord Healthcare launches new app for cancer patients – more pertinent than ever during COVID-19 pandemic

Accord Healthcare (Accord)  announced the launch of Unify Health a new app for cancer patients undergoing treatment incorporating expert data from Macmillan Cancer Support. This new resource has been devised by experts from across the cancer community to support and advise people on their physical and mental wellbeing whilst undergoing cancer treatment. The app can also connect patients with not just local pharmacists in their area but also community pharmacists who have committed to become ‘Community Cancer Champions.’

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Experts at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, the world-leading cancer centre and teaching institution have helped to develop a practical, bite-size training curriculum for community pharmacists who wish to help champion cancer care in the community. The training provides advice on how to talk to and assist cancer patients, particularly around managing symptoms and worries.

Undergoing cancer treatment can be bewildering, with an array of advice and support available from many different sources. This has only been made worse during the COVID-19 pandemic, as cancer patients may have felt the need to avoid healthcare facilities, for fear of being put at greater risk of coming into contact with the virus.

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Unify Health aims to be an app that is always accessible, no matter whether it is night or day that cancer patients and their carers can use, providing a toolkit of tailored advice and information with the ability to locate community pharmacists with training on the management of cancer symptoms and side effects caused by its treatments. These side effects vary from person to person but can include amongst other things dry skin following radio or chemotherapy, disrupted sleep, mouth and throat sores, hair loss, nutritional needs, and feelings of nausea.

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“The pandemic has had a huge impact on cancer care in the UK,” says Dany Bell, Strategic Adviser for Treatment, from Macmillan Cancer Support. “There is a need now, more than ever to develop measures for effective support for management of symptoms and reducing further, any barriers for people to safely access advice. It’s all very well searching for information online, but it’s so much more reassuring for someone living with cancer to actually connect with a ‘real person’ – a healthcare professional who has committed to Cancer Care in the Community who can also provide tailored advice, specific to an individual patient’s needs.

“Limited access to hospitals and hands-on care during the pandemic has simply exacerbated the mental health burden on cancer patients during the last 12 months,” said Badri Wadawadigi, Accord Healthcare’s Head of Digital Health. “If people can face their cancer armed with tailored but medically validated information, this could help decrease worry and may also result in better healthcare outcomes,” he continued.

While access to care has been affected by COVID-19, the pandemic has seen greater acceptance within the medical community of new digital approaches to reach out to all patients, not just those with a cancer diagnosis. GPs and hospital consultants have been conducting remote consultations, either by phone or video, and the healthcare sector has accelerated new ways of interacting with patients.

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