Deanna Lam / Infusion

Infusion is a smart chemotherapy app for patients who are scheduling chemotherapy around life and scheduling life around chemotherapy. The app allows patients to track and monitor side effects, predict future moods/symptoms, and optimize their chemotherapy regimen around special events and key dates.

The app is currently in development with Brian Cohn and Serhan Ulkumen.

2nd Place, Hack for Health @ USC

Over the course of a two-day Hackathon, my team set out to design a data-driven app that would improve the quality of life for cancer patients. From our five interviews with chemotherapy patients, we noticed a common trend—most, if not all, struggled to balance life and chemotherapy. Many patients experience difficulty in committing to future plans, as they aren't sure how their bodies will feel.

We created Infusion with the goal of empowering patients to become better advocates for themselves and take control of their lives.

In the app, patients report their symptoms according to the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE), the standard classification used by oncologists. As more data is inputted over time, the app analyzes side effects to identify patterns in the cycle and predict future side effects.

In our interviews with clinicians and patient advocates, we found that some regimens allowed for flexibility—clinicians were able to reschedule infusions to ensure that patients would recover in time for special events, like graduations and weddings. The app optimizes a patient's infusion schedule to position special events away from severe side effects.

"The app helps me reschedule around the days that my side effects are the worst. It has given me back a sense of freedom."

–Patient currently undergoing chemotherapy for Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Our approach starts with the patients—we interviewed patient advocates and physicians and combed through reviews of chemotherapy, cancer, and other health-related apps to understand why current apps on the market weren't effective and create a solution that is tailored to meet their lives. We differentiated Infusion from already existing apps by taking patient experience into account.

We found that inputting data can quickly become a chore when users are nauseous or tired. Additionally, many patients cited feeling shy when reporting symptoms to their clinicians, unsure whether certain symptoms warranted mention.

We designed a submission form that targeted both demographics—patients looking to quickly, and seamlessly, record their data, and patients who want to better understand the side effects that come with chemotherapy.

We incorporated the CTCAE scale to provide clarity, consistency, and reliability. The descriptions of side effects provide patients with reasonable expectations of treatment toxicity to help them understand common physical problems. Patients grade their side effects using a metric that doctors use and trust. The descriptions collapse as patients input data for each side effect, creating more efficiency and ease.

The analytical function shows how symptoms like fatigue, loss of appetite, and nausea will change over the course of one cycle, providing immediately useful insights that give patients confidence when making plans.