The Journey of MyJourney
The Journey of MyJourney
MyJourney is a first-of-its-kind custom digital platform that empowers patients at North York General (NYGH) to self-manage their cancer journey. The app, that was founded through the involvement of our donor community, delivers a survivorship care plan to patients that includes educational resources personalized to their type of breast cancer, their cancer care summary, and their appointments.
After years of development, testing and refining, the app is helping to empower more patients than ever at NYGH and is on an exciting expansion course thanks to a new grant from the Ontario Centre of Innovation. We sat down with Dr. Fahima Osman, one of NYGH’s surgeons and the visionary behind the app, to learn more.
The Early Years
“I often say that MyJourney is the same age as my daughter since I designed the plans for the app during my pregnancy and they were both “born” at the same time!” jokes Dr. Osman.
In fact, Dr. Osman took a year off from treating patients to work with a team of developers to build MyJourney, taking the care to make sure it doesn’t feel like a medical app, but more of a therapeutic wellness application. From the colours, to the interface, to the inspirational quotes that greet each user at the beginning of a session – every detail was carefully considered.
“This really is a passion project of mine with my patients as my motivation. Oftentimes in my practice, I would be treating patients who were struggling to understand what was happening to them and I would think ‘I wish I had a tool to help them through this long and winding journey.’ After the initial shock of a cancer diagnosis, patients are left with a long list of appointments, tests, consultations. It’s a lot, so MyJourney helps to centralize that journey for them, while also providing tailored and accurate information on a variety of topics related to their condition.”
All articles, photos and content in MyJourney are fully vetted by Dr. Osman and her team, and it’s all customized based on the patient’s age, type of cancer and stage of life. For example, women under 45 who are undergoing chemo will receive information on fertility after treatment.
The MyJourney application is now fully integrated with NYGH hospital’s electronic medical records (EMR) system, and the team is using the app in the Karen, Heather & Lynn Steinberg Breast Centre (which manages approximately 700 breast cancer patients at any one time) to triage patients, create a care summary, and provide patients with customized educational content.
“The beauty of MyJourney is that we are able to take user feedback and make things better. Both patients and their nurses and physicians contribute to our constant quality improvement and we are continuously getting better thanks to that input.”
A recent grant from the Ontario Centre for Innovation will take the app even further, helping Dr. Osman and her team expand the app to the NYGH chemo clinic, enhance educational content and integrate with Sunnybrook where many NYGH patients go for radiation therapy.
“We’ve designed MyJourney to be able to seamlessly integrate with various hospitals’ EMR systems, very much a plug-and-play approach. This way, we can map out a patient’s entire journey even if they are visiting multiple hospitals for care.
The expansion will take place over the next six months at which time the Ministry of Health will also assess further expansion into potentially other hospitals and health centres, helping even more patients.
Role of Donors
“Philanthropy is so important in health care. We can get caught up in our day to day work and we’re all trying to do our best for our patients, but donor funds take care to another level,” explains Dr. Osman.
“MyJourney would never have been possible without donors who provided the seed funding we needed to get this project off the ground. My special thanks to Brad Badeau for his support, leadership and guidance as an experienced technology leader. The role of the donor is so essential, especially in our Canadian universal healthcare system where innovation cannot always be supported by the government. I want every donor to know that this makes a big difference.”