“The certification process of TIC Salut Social greatly improves the end result of the product”

The ICOnnecta’t App has recently passed the TIC Salut Social Foundation’s health app certification process. With the aim of delving into some further aspects of this tool, we went to the Catalan Institute of Oncology to meet with Carles Muñoz. He is a specialist in Hospital Radiophysics and holds a PhD in Molecular Biology, Biomedicine and Health. At the end of his residency at the Doce de Octubre Hospital in Madrid, he joined the Catalan Institute of Oncology. He has spent most of his career as Head of the Medical Physics and Radiation Protection Service at the ICO-Girona. He took over the corporate management of this institution in 2011 and became Director of Information Systems at the same institution in 2015. He has also worked as an associate professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Girona since 2009.

During our talk about the ICO App, we were able to delve deeper into all the benefits offered by digital tools applied to health.

Can you explain what ecosystem of digital tools the ICOnnecta’t app belongs to? And which types of cancer it targets?

ICOnnecta’t involves the Catalan Institute of Oncology’s entire eHealth programme, which allows patients and professionals to interact in this digital environment. The core would be the ICOnnecta’t App, which is the platform for monitoring and screening patients requiring this type of care. But there are other tools within this digital environment of the ICO, such as a moodle campus within eOncology where there are informative contents that have been collaboratively created by patients and professionals; the SAP-ARGOS video console; or even a calculator, which we call a microcalculator; or the Comunitats App that allows you to create a private social network between patients and professionals from the Department of Health.

All of this makes up the ICO’s digital ecosystem with ICOnnecta’t as its cornerstone […] and, with regards to what we are targeting, we are focusing on breast cancer, lung cancer, digestive tumours and various haematological malignancies.

How does the App work once it is prescribed?

Typically, it is the patient’s physician who first identifies the patient’s eligibility for the App. Once this has been decided, the digital onboarding of the patient is carried out at the outpatient clinic, either in person or online. We then help the patient to download the app and register on it. A practice session is then conducted to upload information and, once the patient is sufficiently familiar with the app, they can start using it from home.

Are cancer patients more likely to adhere to treatment? Has the App improved the statistics?

It depends on what we define as treatment. Intravenous and in-hospital systemic treatment, which obviously has a higher adherence, is not the same as subsequent reinforcement or consolidation treatment such as Tamoxifen, whose results are not as good as we would like them to be. In fact, there are studies that indicate an adherence rate of no more than 50% after the first 4 or 5 years. Therefore, it is a problem that is common to other diseases.

ICOnnecta’t and other such apps have been shown to improve adherence, not only in terms of keeping track of medication but also with regard to the healthcare associated with the app, which can go from resolving queries regarding the use of the drug to providing emotional and psychological support. Whenever a clinical follow-up is done through the app, we always achieve better adherence.

What is the level of interaction between the patient and the doctor through the App? 

The interaction between the patient and the professional can take place in different ways. The first step is for the patient to enter their information, then, when this information is at the disposal of the professional, they can detect any early needs, such as the need for medical intervention, psycho-oncological support or similar. This is a type of asynchronous interaction; with regard to synchronous interaction, there is a messaging system that allows the patient to communicate with the professional in order to resolve their doubts or queries. It is also possible to carry out videoconferences and exchange information synchronously within the ICOnnecta’t App.

We have clear evidence that the response time for resolving queries has improved, and that the messaging system is a lot more efficient than the hospital appointment system. […] In some specific cases in the psycho-oncological field, for example, it has reduced the time taken to attend to certain patients from 14 to 2 days.

We are currently working on different tests to demonstrate how the app can have a positive impact on clinical results. At this point, we are in the process of gathering evidence.

The importance of TIC Salut Social Foundation’s certification service

We ended the conversation by discussing the benefits that passing the certification process can bring to the ICOnnecta’t App. Muñoz said the following:


  • “It is very important that the tools are accredited so as to guarantee not only technology and security but also that the content, usability and accessibility are suitable for patients”.

  • “The App’s next challenge is to demonstrate that it improves clinical results. We are currently in the process of gathering evidence”.