Bringing together patients' perspectives on eHealth and mHealth

Gather My Crew – A Developing Tool for Carers

Australian charity demonstrates key steps in developing a carer tool – Gather My Crew

Gather My Crew is a digital tool that enables patients and carers to set up and manage support networks. Although working as a small charity, the team has pulled together good practice in developing the tool, including:

  • Researching the specific unmet need with patients and clinicians
  • Working with patients and clinicians throughout development and user testing
  • Building alliances with relevant patient groups to boost uptake of the tool
  • Raising awareness through a comprehensive website and social media strategy. 

So, what lessons can be learned from Gather My Crews’ experience?

Demonstrate your research base

Following on, in interviews, and on their own website, Dr Susan Palmer, the psychologist who founded the Gather My Crew digital tool, emphasises the research that focused the development.

Broadly, after the decision was made to develop a tool to help people build a support network, the research broke into three steps:

  • Identifying which digital tools exist, and how they are being used.
  • Establishing where the unmet need really is –
    • “Online searches revealed other rostering tools, but nothing that focused on the pre-emptive, evidence-based aspects of Gather My Crew” – Dr Susan Palmer
  • Speaking to clinicians to confirm the gap from their perspective –
    • “…the absence of any routinely recommended technological solution to the human problem of gathering support.” – Dr Susan Palmer
Demonstrate patient involvement

The trigger for the tool was identified by Dr Palmer in 2015 when she interviewed:

  • survivors of health crises
  • families who supported them
  • clinicians who guided them.

This initial research concluded that:

  • Firstly, “people in crisis do not know what help they need or how to ask for it.
  • Secondly, friends and family do not know how they can best help and don’t want to ‘intrude’ by providing unwanted help.
  • And lastly, coordinating help in an ongoing way is complicated and time consuming.” – Gather my crew

To develop the app, Dr Palmer set up:

  • a user working party of breast cancer patients
  • a clinical team including psychologists, clinical specialists and social workers.
Ally with other patient groups

Furthermore, as the aim of the digital tool is to help patients or carers build, coordinate and manage their support networks, it can apply in almost any area of health, anywhere. Dr Susan Palmer recognises the importance of reaching out to individuals through her partnerships with patient groups:

“Currently, Gather My Crew is focusing on partnerships with organisations who are at the pointy end of dealing with patients in health crisis situations. Organisations like Cancer Council Australia, Redkite, Stroke Foundation, Breast Cancer Network Australia…These organisations are actively promoting Gather My Crew to the many families they work with – through phone support lines, information packs, blogs and social media.” – Dr Susan Palmer

Make the offering clear on the web and social media

One of our biggest frustrations is when charities and patient groups create fantastic tools, but lack the resources to give these enough profile on their own sites and social media.

So it is reassuring to see Gather My Crew as a small charity to do some of this better than many sites from big commercial developers.

The site gives a very comprehensive overview of the digital tool, including:

  • Firstly, a clear statements of how it helps, including a powerful video story from a patient
  • Secondly, an overview of what it is, including a simple video introduction from Dr Palmer
  • Thirdly, tailored support and screenshots depending on whether you are a patient and carer wanting to set up a support network, or someone wanting to help them.

We see so many, expensively-designed websites for apps. Yet so often when we’ve dug under the glitz and veneer we’re still perplexed about why an app or tool is different, or even what it does. So it’s great to see a charity getting it clear on a budget.

NEXT STEPS:

Find out more about the digital tool at…

Click here

Read an interview with Susan Palmer on how she developed the tool on the Thriving Communities Australia website…

Click here

Check out the digital tool at…

Click here



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