Noona is an online service that offers cancer patients the option to record results themselves and to share these with their treatment specialists. Smart algorithms help healthcare teams by identifying and predicting acute symptoms. Information reported by the patient supports nursing staff and doctors in their everyday work by safeguarding the safety and effectiveness of the treatment and making patient monitoring more efficient and effective. This frees up more time to concentrate on those patients that need care.
The Helsinki University Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center (HUHCCC) uses Noona for its patients. Several years ago, Johanna Mattson, medical director and director of the HUH, decided in collaboration with her team to completely change the way they communicate with patients. The reason for this was a letter sent from dissatisfied breast cancer patient to the largest daily newspaper in Finland. She wrote about the poor contact and communication she experienced following her operation.
Communication is extremely important following surgery: patients are worried, may experience unpleasant side-effects, or have difficulty returning to their normal lives. For an increasing number of patients, traditional channels of communication are no longer adequate, and a more effective method needs to be developed. Mattson and her team decided to reconsider the communication and interaction with patients and to explore digital systems in order to serve patients better.
Together with Healthcare Design Agency Kaufman, they investigated a new medium of communication. A small team of healthcare providers and ICT specialists started out by talking to breast cancer patients of all ages about their needs. One important outcome was their positive attitude towards the use of digital communication. The collaborative design ensures that all professional and practical guidelines and measurements are taken into account, because oncological results have to be dealt with in a highly precise manner. The result was Noona.
In 2015, HUHCCC started a pilot study with 800 breast cancer patients; it was one of Europe’s largest-ever pilot studies. They have meanwhile extended the number of treatments and departments, and 1500 patients are currently using Noona. Patients are very enthusiastic and the number of patients requesting the service is growing tremendously. The aim is to offer all the clinic’s patients this type of communication by mid-2018. They also want to extend the service to include mental healthcare.
Noona enables healthcare professionals at HUHCCC to provide more personalised care because they know which patients need extra appointments and which can manage with fewer. As well as Noona’s user-friendly design, it has also been welcomed by healthcare professionals. Implementing Noona has not changed the responsibilities of nursing staff and doctors. In the new situation, communication with patients is better planned and priority can be given to those who need it. The results of the project will be assessed scientifically so that elements such as productivity are also measured and evaluated.
“The most important lesson we can learn from Mattson is to always begin from the patient’s perspective. Staff commitment is also crucial; room must be allowed for their professional experience, and there has to be enough time to implement changes. ‘You’ll see that if you do that, it’ll be a win-win
situation. Patients are enthusiastic and staff are able to provide better care more efficiently”
– Johanna Mattson