The Christie

The Christie, Leading European Cancer Care Hospital

The Christie, can now make sure every patient with additional communication needs receives the best possible person centred care, reducing health inequalities for often underserved patients.

Language barriers no longer prevent Aisha from understanding her cancer treatment

Leading European cancer care centre, The Christie, can now make sure every patient with additional communication needs receives the best possible person-centred care, reducing health inequalities for often underserved patients. The Christie is the largest single site cancer centre in Europe and is the first specialist hospital to be rated Outstanding twice by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The Christie and CardMedic are working together to remove communication barriers and reduce health inequalities for cancer patients.

The Christie was the first specialist cancer care provider to deploy CardMedic, the multi-award winning healthcare communications app. The CardMedic app provides a library of digital flashcards in simple, multi-format and multi-language scripts for common healthcare interactions. By working with CardMedic, The Christie has achieved:

  • Roll-out to over 100 users
  • Improved patient experience
  • Bridged communication gaps and reduced health inequalities
  • Reduced the reliance on face-to-face interpreters
  • Improved medication safety
The challenge

In every care setting, communication gaps exist between clinicians and patients with additional communication needs, as a result of language barriers, or other impairments including visual, hearing or cognitive ability. In cancer care, these can be more critical. Being diagnosed with and treated for cancer is an incredibly daunting experience for anyone, but for patients that aren’t able to fully communicate with and understand their care team, they’re less likely to engage with their treatment, keep up with their medication and report dangerous symptoms. 

According to Cancer Research UK, there are 20,000 more cancer cases a year in deprived areas. People in these areas, sadly, are more likely to get cancer, get diagnosed late and be more likely to die.

Language barriers are a common barrier to good patient experience and limited English proficiency (LEP) patients report lower satisfaction in their encounters with healthcare providers compared to English-speakers.

Bethany Allen, Oncology Staff Nurse and Digital Nurse Implementer at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust said: “On a 12-hour shift, we would normally only have an interpreter on the ward with us for one hour to help us have the most important conversations about a patient’s care. For the other 11 hours, at times it could be really difficult to communicate.”

The solution – how CardMedic is helping

CardMedic has enabled The Christie to bridge communication gaps and reduce health inequalities that existed between clinicians and patients. The technology is being used during ward rounds and throughout clinical shifts.

Having CardMedic means Beth and her colleagues can safely and effectively talk with patients with additional communication needs when an interpreter or multi-lingual staff aren’t available. It means that cancer care teams can deliver the same standard of care to every patient, irrespective of communication barriers.

“Since using CardMedic, we have been able to bridge a major gap in service provision and be assured that we are communicating with patients effectively and sensitively, which is essential in cancer care.”

Bethany Allen, Oncology Staff Nurse and Digital Nurse Implementer at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust

The result

Since first being launched in mid 2022, CardMedic is being used by over 100 cancer nurses, doctors and pharmacists, giving them an interpreter in their pocket, available when and where they need it. Benefits include:

  • Improving access to care – more people are getting equitable access to care, and a better experience.
  • Providing consistent information – care teams can be sure important information has been understood.
  • Much needed reassurance during sensitive conversations – being able to communicate effectively with cancer patients in a safe environment helps to reassure them at a profoundly difficult time.
  • Reducing health inequalities – often the most deprived communities have the highest concentration of limited English proficiency patients, and those least likely to engage fully with their care team.
  • Always available – when a human interpreter isn’t available staff have an instant solution at the point of care that removes the uncertainty of computer translations and the safety and confidentiality complications of using a third party.
  • New use cases – new uses cases are being identified all the time, including helping pharmacists discuss medication with patients directly.
Inspiring others

At The Christie, CardMedic was Initially made available for nurses, but new use cases have since been identified by the hospital within pharmacy.

Pharmacists have been using CardMedic to discuss medications with patients, which has transformed their relationship. They can use the chat function within the app to answer any questions that patients might have about a certain medication, and it’s really putting patients at ease.

The trust has also been working with CardMedic to co-create content, developing specific oncology scripts so patients who would otherwise struggle to communicate can be informed and reassured about their treatment.

To help with the rollout, the trust deployed digital champions within nursing teams to encourage uptake of the solution. Superusers on wards have really helped encourage the use of CardMedic. Once care teams have seen it in action, they understand the value immediately, finding it hard to imagine starting a shift without it.

A woman receiving a consultation from a clinician

See the impact of CardMedic in action