World Cancer Day: Helping break communication barriers

Press release posted 1 February 2023

World Cancer Day takes place on Saturday 4 February 2023. The Christie is a world-leading cancer centre and colleagues come from all over the world to work here. We’re proud to serve a diverse patient population from across the North West and beyond. 

For World Cancer Day, Bethany Allen, one of our digital nurses, shares how technology can be used to support patients with additional communication needs.

Bethany Allen joined The Christie as a staff nurse just over 4 years ago and moved into a digital nursing role last year. Digital nurses act as a link between the digital and clinical teams, helping to make sure that systems and technology meet the needs of staff and patients.

Amelia Cargo from our communications team sat down with Beth to find out more.

Tell us a bit about your role as a digital nurse?

In a nutshell, we make sure that the technology and systems we use make life easier for staff and patients. 

Tell us more about CardMedic?

CardMedic was designed by an anaesthetist at Great Ormond Street Hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. She and her colleagues were having trouble communicating while wearing PPE, so they were writing down information on paper in order to ‘speak’ to patients. Everyone was writing down similar bits of information, so she developed a digital library of scripts for the medical conversations they were having. 

The idea was such a success that they had the scripts developed in multiple languages. Different reading ages and background colours are also available, and some scripts also have videos of British Sign Language.

The scripts can either be presented to the patient on the screen or played as an audio clip. If there is a question requiring a response, the app allows you to record this response and it will be translated in a matter of seconds. This chat function also provides the clinician with the opportunity to go ‘off script’ if needed.

How does it benefit staff and patients?

We have worked with the clinical teams to develop oncology-specific scripts for CardMedic, so it’s tailored to what we do at The Christie. We’ve also developed proton and radiotherapy scripts, which should be available on the app in a matter of weeks.

CardMedic is an additional tool to support staff in communicating with their patients. It’s important to state that it doesn’t replace an interpreter as these are still of great value to our patients and are particularly important when consenting patients for treatment. 

The app will break down communication barriers, which will hopefully make patients feel safer and well-informed about their care. Patients can also download the app for themselves, to help them navigate healthcare in their first language. 

If you are a patient or visitor and you have additional communication needs, you can download the CardMedic app from the iOS App Store or the Google Play store.

Last updated: April 2023