AI-based app provides personalized recommendations to cancer patients

Researchers at Georgia Tech have developed a new AI-based app, MyPath, that adapts to each stage of a patient’s cancer journey with personalized resources and recommendations on everything from side effects to insurance and more. MyPath also addresses the social and emotional concerns around cancer diagnosis. 

MyPath has already served as a “guide and support” system for 50 breast cancer patients in rural Georgia.

Development for the app began at the Harbin Clinic in Rome, Georgia, where Elizabeth Mynatt, PhD, principal investigator and professor at Georgia Tech, and her team saw a need for rural cancer patients to stay connected with their providers on a regular basis. 

The “cancer navigators,” or people who help patients through the cancer journey, found that they interacted with patients a lot during diagnosis but less frequently as the patient’s care progressed. And in turn, patients didn’t receive the recommendations that could be useful during their cancer treatment. Mynatt and her team figured a mobile app would keep cancer navigators and their patients connected throughout the cancer treatment process.

The AI-based app is pre-programmed with resources from the American Cancer Society and other organizations and also provides access to contact information for caregivers. In addition, patients are asked to complete surveys that help notify the system and caregivers of their changing requirements and symptoms. 

Using AI methods, the MyPath app is then personalized with each patient’s diagnosis and treatment plan, which includes dates for procedures. For example, a stage 2 breast cancer patient who is about to undergo a lumpectomy can click “Preparing for Surgery” to view articles that will prepare them for surgery and post-op. The app also provides information on how to combat the side effects of cancer.

“Patients have told us, ‘It just seemed to magically know what I needed,’” Mynatt said in a prepared statement.

Mynatt and her team hope to expand usage of the app to cancer survivors, who face challenges like hormone replacement therapy.