My journey in the innovation world

Teresa Kua is a Urology Clinical Nurse Specialist (Urology Cancer) at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and a Horizon Fellow. In this blog, she shares her mission to find a digital solution to facilitate the open access pathway for prostate cancer patients.

I’m here again with my colleague, a consultant, trying to look for available appointment slots in our Oncology clinic to see patients. There are just not enough outpatient clinic appointments for every patient. Our clinics have been overrun for many weeks as we have been adding on patients to the already very full existing clinic list.

In contrast, I just got an email from one of my patients, David. He is one of my younger patients, in his forties. David wrote that due to work commitments he is unable to attend his appointment with me next week. This is his routine surveillance appointment for his prostate cancer after treatment. He had surgery two years ago. David said he would love to come and meet me as we had such a good relationship, but work had been super busy and he is struggling to find the time. He told me he is very well and has no issues. He is happy for me to email him his latest Prostate specific antigen (PSA) reading.

The benefits of open access

Open access follow up is a pathway that allows patients to monitor their cancer remotely. It requires patients to do the relevant test at an agreed time. The results from the test will be reviewed by a clinical member and the outcome will then be sent to patient and GP either by post or email. This type of pathway is done without an outpatient appointment. It helps the hospital to free up more outpatient appointments and in turn save resources and money. It also empowers patients to have better control of their life after treatment for their cancer. Many trusts in the country had already started using this pathway.

It is my goal to get this pathway going in our hospital. I can see its benefits for so many people and my clinical team is excited about the potential. Unfortunately, we’ve had to put setting this pathway on hold for now as there is currently no funding available to provide the administrative support required to run the service.

Finding a digital solution

I am a Urology Oncology clinical nurse specialist. I am passionate about helping Urological cancer patients and am always looking at any opportunity to ensure patients have a good quality of life after treatment. One such opportunity came in the form of the Horizon Fellowship Progamme.

My project whilst on the Fellowship is to find a digital solution to facilitate the open access pathway for prostate cancer patients. This will be fully automated with no administrative support. The progamme had given me extensive support Including through learning days which have provided taught sessions on different topics and provided us with new ideas on innovation. I’ve been paired with various mentors that have given me ideas and support. Opportunities have also been setup to network with other innovators to learn from their experiences.  

The experiences by far had been mind-blowing. For the first time in my life, I am doing something so different from what I do for a living. I was taken out of my comfort zone but I feel amazing and refreshed.

I am now half-way through my project. I started the programme with low IT knowledge, but I have learnt a lot through the process. There are several concerns and risks related to my project but geared with the tools and knowledge from the programme, I believe I can do it. Wish me good luck!

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