University of Surrey develops new app to support palliative care in Ethiopia
A mobile phone app has been developed at the University of Surrey to support patients needing end of life care in Ethiopia.
The Ayzot app is a collaboration between Surrey, the University of Strathclyde, Hospice Ethiopia, the Federal Ministry of Health and Hello Doctor Ethiopia, an Ethiopian-based software company run by Dr Yohans Wodaje. The app is named after a common Ethiopian expression roughly translated to mean: to encourage or soothe a sick person. The app’s focus is on supporting patients with life-limiting illnesses such as cancer and HIV/AIDS by helping them manage pain and other symptoms.
Ethiopia has a population of more than 114 million, the majority of whom live in rural settings, making palliative care coverage challenging. The current COVID-19 pandemic has made palliative care access even more difficult.
The app features a self-assessment management system that leads the patient or carer through a common set of symptoms such as pain, nausea, drowsiness, breathlessness, tiredness, appetite and well-being. Both patients and carers are encouraged to use the Ayzot app to assess the severity of each symptom using a combination of measures, including the pain assessment scale. The app contains both pharmacological and non-pharmacological medication information and, where appropriate, directs the user to get help and further information on wound care, spiritual care and diet.
During a short period of beta user-testing, carers reported positive changes in how they treated their loved one’s wounds because of the advice found on the app. Furthermore, health care professionals commented on the app's potential to support them in delivering targeted care with the limited palliative care resources. Patients reported that using the Ayzot app helped them feel more reassured and supported with their pain management and symptom control.
The team behind the Ayzot app is currently looking to secure further funding to perform a feasibility study and test the app in several rural areas across Ethiopia and other African countries. The work was led by Dr Nicola Carey, Nicola Ayers, Roma Maguire, Ephram Abathun, Yohans Wodajie and Catherine Royce.
Dr Nicola Carey from the School of Health Sciences at the University of Surrey said:
“The Ayzot app has been designed to be used independently by patients and family members to provide support with pain and symptom control related to palliative care. During the Covid-19 pandemic, access to essential palliative care in Ethiopia has been reduced, and I believe the app will help prevent disease and treat patients. We hope that Ayzot will be embedded into the national palliative care clinical provision to support healthcare professionals and provide enhanced palliative coverage in Ethiopia.”