Tallaght Hospital is developing an app to support pancreatitis patients

14 Dec 2022

From left: Tallaght University Hospital head of innovate health Dr Natalie Cole, patient representative Aidan McGrenra, consultant surgeon Prof Kevin Conlon and public service innovation fund manager Chris Kiernan. Image: TUH

The app is designed to help medical staff care for patients in their homes and communities, boosting the goal of becoming a ‘hospital without walls’.

Tallaght University Hospital (TUH) is working on an app to help patients with chronic pancreatitis.

The SmartCP mobile app is designed to improve communication between patients and hospital staff, and let users improve their disease management while at home.

TUH said the app will enable its medical staff to care for patients in their homes and communities, boosting its goal of becoming a “hospital without walls”.

Chronic pancreatitis is a condition where the pancreas is inflamed and becomes progressively more damaged over time. The condition is incurable, so the current focus is on dealing with symptoms and complications, such as bloating, nausea and vomiting.

As the disease progresses, patients can develop brittle diabetes, osteoporosis and nutrient deficiency, along with a higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Patients with this chronic condition typically require specialist, multidisciplinary care.

TUH currently has more than 300 patients with chronic pancreatitis on its clinical database, many of whom live outside of Dublin.

Prof Kevin Conlon, one of the SmartCP project coordinators and professor of surgery at Trinity College Dublin, said TUH is well placed to develop this technology as it runs “the only dedicated chronic pancreatitis service nationally”.

“This new digital tool will improve patient access to specialist care, no matter where they live in the country,” Conlon added.

Dr Sinead Duggan, senior research fellow at Trinity and co-principal investigator, said that while TUH has made a “robust research programme” over the last decade, chronic pancreatitis has traditionally been “a neglected condition”.

“We envisage that SmartCP will represent the lynchpin that enhances the quality of our service and facilitates a shift from illness to wellness, and ultimately towards an integrated care programme for chronic pancreatitis.”

The team plans to launch the app early next year and complete a study to determine its feasibility in the management of patients with chronic pancreatitis.

The project was supported by an innovation grant from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. It was developed in collaboration with TUH’s Innovate Health team, ICT and finance departments, as well as the department of computing at TU Dublin.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic