Posted December 2, 2013 by Carol Martin in Hot Topics

Empowering patients to become self-health advocates through use of technology

Advances in technologies have shaped the way we communicate and have enabled the modern day-day patient to very easily connect with medical authorities, patient advocates and other individuals living with their disease. Through computers, handheld devices like tablets and smart phones, and social media, patients are also able to immediately access credible data &ndash anything that could not have been imagined till not too long ago. Digital tools and on-line resources have turn into specifically beneficial for individuals living with uncommon wellness conditions, such as sarcomas or malignant tumors that are usually difficult to diagnose.

Sarcoma Awareness Month was not too long ago commemorated in the United States and is an opportune time to raise awareness among these men and women unfamiliar with sarcomas, although also empowering individuals living with the disease to be their own ideal advocates. A single way individuals can self-advocate is by employing obtainable digital resources to acquire details about their situation.

For instance, for patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST), a uncommon, life-threatening sarcoma that is mostly located in the gastrointestinal (GI) track and most frequently identified in the stomach or small intestine, the journey to a correct diagnosis may take years as symptoms are not present in earlier stages of the illness. As soon as diagnosed, the journey has just begun, and individuals must realize how to greatest handle their disease. Sufferers with GIST can use on-line sources to take charge of their health by following these actions:

* Type a healthcare group: Type a multidisciplinary team of healthcare specialists (e.g., gastroenterologist, health-related oncologist, surgeon, pathologist) to make certain that patients and physicians are operating with each other to assist accomplish the best outcome.

* Continue the conversation: Hold the lines of communication open with a doctor. Don&rsquot hesitate to ask inquiries or attain out to healthcare professionals in between regular visits.

* Connect with others: Join online or live assistance groups to connect with other individuals and exchange individual experiences. A recent study from Japan showed that in today&rsquos era, social media, like Twitter, are worthwhile sources for the sharing of psychological support among the cancer community.

To further assist patients with GIST with managing their condition, Novartis recently launched two new digital resources:

* The GIST Network YouTube Channel: Featuring videos to help GIST patients and their caregivers with patient stories and ideas from healthcare specialists.

* &ldquoAssess the Danger&rdquo Mobile App: Geared to educate healthcare pros on how to assess the risk of recurrence of GIST and facilitate the discussion in between healthcare experts and individuals.

&ldquoWith the availability of new digital tools, such as the &lsquoAssess the Danger&rsquo mobile app, new lines of communication are being formed amongst patients and physicians, which is genuinely remarkable,&rdquo says Dr. Robert Andtbacka of the Huntsman Cancer Institute. &ldquoWorking with a team of physicians and connecting with other patients are each integral parts of the patient journey.&rdquo

As technology continues to evolve, it is critical that individuals living with a rare condition such as GIST continue be their own wellness advocates and function with their healthcare specialists to establish a illness management plan that is ideal for them.

For much more info about GIST and to hear other patient stories, please visit the GIST Network Channel on the Novartis YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/GISTNetwork. Healthcare pros can download the Assess the Danger&rdquo app on a mobile device, by texting APP to 59629 or looking GIST Cancer Danger Novartis in the App Shop or Google Play.

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Carol Martin