Background Royal Trinity Hospice supports around 2500 patients a year, 80% of whom live in the community. Feedback from patients and carers was that it was difficult to get to grips with changing symptoms and medications, and to understand the support available at the hospice, particularly in the early days after being referred.
Aims The Royal Trinity Hospice app is designed to provide patients and carers living at home with the support and information they need, in a timely and accessible way.
Methods The content of the app was developed through collaboration between a multi-disciplinary team of staff at the hospice incorporating feedback from patients and carers. The app includes:
• Easy to understand information on medications and common symptoms.
• Advance care planning prompts which can be shared via email with relatives or hospice staff.
• A function to manage attendance at hospice outpatients groups and contact key hospice teams directly.
• Bereavement content for carers.
Challenges during the development process included a lack of skills and experience in digital product development, capacity challenges around generating content and securing buy-in among hospice staff.
Results The app was launched on iTunes in April 2017 and was downloaded 83 times in the first two months. Patients commented that it confirmed that they were receiving the best possible care. Carers commented that the information on symptoms was good to refer back to. Both patients and carers felt it would be of most benefit when they were first referred to the hospice.
Conclusions The app is still in its pilot phase. A full evaluation will be undertaken to disseminate learning, to understand the full impact on patient and carer outcomes and to determine whether the app merits further investment. However initial findings would indicate there is scope for hospices to enhance face-to-face care with digital tools.
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