The central technology for MyPal is electronic Patient Reported Outcome (ePRO) systems/tools. The rationale of ePROs is aligned with the “quantified patient” paradigm, which is an upcoming practice for data capturing by patients and carers that holds much promise. It relies on mHealth apps, personal health devices, sensors / IoT (Internet of Things) artifacts and standardised evidence-based questionnaires.

The building blocks of the MyPal intervention are organised in four tiers (depicted below):

  • the data tier, which contains data extraction, transformation and serving functionalities;
  • the tools tier, which contains the technology components, such as ePROs (via mobile/desktop apps and games), self-management tools, psycho-emotional assessment;
  • the interaction tier, which contains disruptive user interfaces for the end users, particularly adapted to their needs and preferences, and finally
  • the privacy and security tier coping with user privacy and data security aspects.

The building blocks of the MyPal intervention

Aiming to advance conventional ePRO tools, and realize a paradigm shift from passive patient reporting to active patient engagement, MyPal will build upon the following tools/technologies:

– Novel human-computer interaction: Embodied conversational agents offering a voice-based dialogue interaction for patient reporting will be employed, in order to overcome the limitations of traditional human-computer interaction techniques especially for patients with low digital literacy.

– Personalised ePRO tool for adults: Patients will commence to keep track of all symptoms, QoL levels, mood etc. even those of minor significance which with time have negatively impacted their QoL and would not otherwise be mentioned. This information will be available for the healthcare team to study and address, identifying also the patient’s individual drivers of optimal self-management behaviours. Personalised motivational messaging will be also employed.

– Game-based approach for outcome reporting by children: This approach has been selected as a fun, non-threatening way to elicit information from children with cancer. “Serious” games are games for a special purpose beyond game fun, e.g. knowledge transfer or behaviour change.

– Shared decision-making: This is meant to help patients make a decision having received and understood medical information and discussed it with the healthcare team. Individual patients are experts in their own experience of illness and, when engaged in their own care, they can offer information that is important to decision making with regards to treatment and care.

– Integrated palliative care tool: Based on the MyPal PROs, the healthcare team can respond more quickly and effectively by pulling relevant resources and organising the provision of supportive care for the patient and his/her family. The availability of care combined with the holistic approach adopted by MyPal as evidenced by the monitoring of disease and treatment aspects as well as psychosocial aspects is bound to have a positive effect on patient satisfaction and his/her relationship with the healthcare team.

– Patient – healthcare provider communication tools: These include communication aids in the form of discussion guides (to help patients raise topics with their physician or healthcare team during their next face-to-face meeting), simple, easy to navigate, terminology free, Q&A guides with information on a particular treatment, etc.

– Psycho-emotional monitoring and support tool: MyPal will implement questionnaire-based tools and applications to monitor patient’s stress, anxiety, depression and related negative impact of the disease on their lives and social relations. These tools will report to the healthcare professionals in order to contribute to a positive attitude towards life and the fight with the disease.