Clinical update

ONCOassist app: what nurses need to know

According to a recent study this oncology app saves time, increases efficiency and provides a seamless patient experience

According to a recent study the ONCOassist app saves time, increases efficiency and provides a seamless patient experience

ONCOassist app is an oncology app that can save time, increase efficiency and improve the patient experience

Essential facts

A little over a decade ago, apps were at an embryonic stage. Few of us had them on our mobile phones and those who did used them mainly to play games.

Now, many areas of personal and work lives are shaped by apps, with patients and healthcare professionals becoming increasingly reliant on sophisticated mobile tools.

A survey by technology giant Philips found that people were routinely using apps to monitor their health. Data from technology company Netis Informatics suggests 66% of people in the UK use health apps.

The RCN recognises there are many ‘reliable and trustworthy’ apps that can enhance nursing practice but advises nurses to develop the knowledge and skills to assess apps’ reliability, validity and accuracy.  

What’s new?

New apps relevant to nurses working in cancer care are coming on stream constantly. Created in 2012, ONCOassist is among the more established but it featured recently in a study designed to determine factors that constrain or encourage clinicians’ adoption of mobile phone technology.

The Anglia Ruskin University study, published in JMIR mHealth and uHealth, looked at factors like workplace issues, whether new technologies are embraced by the employing organisation, and whether other clinicians use the app.

With regard to ONCOassist in particular, study participants, who included nurses, felt it saved time, increased efficiency and provided a more seamless patient experience by allowing decisions to be made at the point of care.

ONCOassist supports the decision-making of oncology clinicians. Its developers say it provides access to up-to-date tools and content that can help improve patient care.

Key features include formulas, drug information, adjuvant tools and prognostic scores tailored for different specialties. ONCOnews allows access to stories and updates personalised to the user’s specialism.

What this means for cancer nurses

Its developers say that of the 1,000 UK oncology clinicians who are active users of ONCOassist, 300 are nurses. Tools included in the app that nurses use most are the toxicity criteria and patient dosing tools. The drug information section, which offers data on more than 200 oncology drugs, is also valued by nurses.

A significant benefit of using apps such as ONCOassist is quick access at the point of care to validated evidence. ONCOassist can also be integrated to local policies and protocols, making them available quickly and through a single portal.

Expert comment

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust nurse consultant Matt Fowler

I’ve been using ONCOassist for a couple of years now. The main benefit is you’ve got everything in one place that you can access at the push of a button on your phone, which is the way we should be working nowadays.

Equally, the information on there is useful and user friendly. It’s got information on all the drugs we administer in oncology and haematology, including immunotherapy and hormones, what the side effects are and what monitoring we need to do.

It’s probably aimed more at my medical peers but it’s accessible for nurses as well. And I find having access to oncology-specific tools and content in one place saves me significant time. Everything is on your phone. I love it.


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Daniel Allen is a freelance writer

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