Georgia Tech develops MyPath app to help cancer patients with artificial intelligence

The software delivers personalized advice based on diagnosis, treatment, insurance, and more.
By Nathan Eddy
10:36 AM

MyPath surveys patients to inform caregivers about changing symptoms and needs. Credit: Christopher Moore, Georgia Tech. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is finding its way into many areas of healthcare, now including mobile devices, thanks to an application designed by the Georgia Institute of Technology to guide and support cancer patients.

The mobile app, which runs on a tablet computer, gives 50 breast cancer patients in rural Georgia personalized recommendations on everything from side effects to insurance, and the information regularly changes based on each patient’s progress.

THE BIGGER TREND

Artificial intelligence could be a game-changing technology for a host of healthcare applications. Sutter Health, Ada Health, Innovaccer and QuartzClinical, among others introduced technologies or offerings infused with AI at HIMSS19.

MyPath starts with a mobile library of resources compiled from the American Cancer Society and other reputable organizations, and can be personalized with each patient’s diagnosis and treatment plan, along with dates for specific procedures.

Patients also complete regular surveys that help inform the system and caregivers of their changing needs and symptoms — if a user reports nausea in the system’s survey, MyPath will bring the patient’s attention to resources that can help combat that side effect.

Elizabeth Mynatt, executive director of the Georgia Tech Institute for People and Technology and a professor in the Georgia Tech School of Interactive Computing, was the principal investigator for the development of the app, which goes back six years.

Mynatt’s team worked with the Harbin Clinic in Rome, Georgia, whose holistic cancer care recognizing that patients, large rural areas face a variety of challenges to be able to successfully navigate the cancer journey.

Some of the app’s most popular features have nothing to do directly with cancer, but instead offerings like “Emotional Support” and “Day to Day Matters” are regularly consulted by patients.

ON THE RECORD

“When we asked them about how they used the tablet for healthcare, many patients would talk to us about playing Angry Birds, which they would download to distract them during chemo sessions,” Mynatt said in a statement.

In addition to incorporating a patient’s medical data, the app also addresses a variety of other relevant issues such as social and emotional needs — if a patient is scheduled for surgery, for instance, MyPath will tell the person what she needs to know the day before.

WHAT COMES NEXT

MyPath is the second generation of the app. Patient feedback from its predecessor, My Journey Compass, led to changes including the personalization.

Mynatt’s team is hoping to expand the app for use by cancer survivors, who often face additional challenges like hormone replacement therapy. The team is also working on a version that individual patients could download, which would make the app available to many more users.

“Patients have told us, ‘It just seemed to magically know what I needed,’” Mynatt said in a statement. “Every day MyPath puts the right resources at your fingertips to help you through your cancer journey." 

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin. 

Email the writer: nathaneddy@gmail.com

Twitter: @dropdeaded209