GenesisCare Partners With Technogym To Launch Pioneering “Exercise Medicine” App For Cancer Patients
Cancer treatment can be one of the most difficult and distressing periods in a person’s life. Clinical studies show that regular exercise improves cancer patients’ quality of life, mental resilience, and treatment outcomes. Here is how one company – GenesisCare – has adapted the research to develop a life-changing exercise offer in partnership with Technogym.
Joshila DeVile, Head of Exercise Medicine at GenesisCare, is a specialist oncology physiotherapist who has pioneered the development of GenesisCare’s Exercise Medicine app, powered by Technogym Mywellness.
She explained how uptake of the ground-breaking app is transforming the outlook for cancer patients.
“GenesisCare has always focused on designing care and treatment that results in the best possible life outcomes,” she said. “With our innovative app, we are making sure cancer patients actually get to experience the benefits of exercise.”
Designing a hybrid offer to support patients in their homes
GenesisCare were innovators of exercise as part of oncology treatment when they started offering face-to-face sessions in 2018. Launching the Exercise Medicine app in March 2020 has allowed the company to offer a digital solution, combining in-person and virtual support.
“We believe care should be available when and where people need it most,” said Joshila, “and the app allows us to overcome barriers to engagement, extending our reach, and increasing exercise frequency.”
The app helps GenesisCare deliver exercise to a larger number of patients, including those who find it hard to drive or who live a distance from their local centre and provides exercise prescription programmes, which are filmed in the centre where the patient is receiving treatment so it’s truly personalised to them. The app is already being used in eight of GenesisCare’s 14 UK centres, with roll out to the entire network by the end of 2021.
Providing a lifeline during lockdown
When lockdown disrupted medical treatment for so many patients, the app meant GenesisCare could continue to support people on a daily basis. This proved invaluable to people’s mental wellbeing and outlook, as well as their physical recovery.
“As soon as lockdown was announced, we had to decrease face to face support from our centres,” said Joshila. “It could have been a really challenging and distressing time for our patients. Thanks to the app, we were able to continue prescribing their exercise sessions, offer a familiar face, and retain that sense of support and community which is so important during treatment.”
The importance of Exercise Medicine for cancer recovery
Exercise, defined by the World Health Organisation as planned, structured, repetitive, and purposeful conditioning of the body, has an astounding range of benefits to cancer patients’ recovery, life outcomes, and risk of cancer-specific mortality.
A sedentary lifestyle creates a favourable environment for a tumour. Regular exercise changes the way the immune system works, targeting the abnormal cells more effectively, and stimulating bone marrow to produce more “killer cells.”
“The exercise we prescribe is much more than traditional rehab or physio,” explained Joshila. “We focus on building and maintaining muscle mass during cancer treatment, to release immune modulators into the bloodstream. We know that the amount of muscle you have has a direct correlation how well you live your older life.”
GenesisCare typically find people gain muscle mass and strength from a 12-week Exercise Medicine programme during cancer treatment.
99% improvements in health change
“Patients who use our app report a huge increase in how they feel about their health,” said Joshila. “51% of them reported it to be 99%! And remember, this is from people who have just received a cancer diagnosis. The fact that they start to enjoy exercise, means they are more likely to stay active, adopt other positive lifestyle choices, and get back to their pre-cancer routines.”
“The World Health Organisation estimates that 30-50% of cancer deaths could be prevented by implementing existing evidence-based prevention strategies – one of which is regular exercise,” said Joshila. “By prescribing exercise via the app, we help the patient get into the habit of taking a small daily dose of this powerful medicine.”
Overwhelmingly positive feedback from patients
Feedback about the app from GenesisCare patients has been extremely positive. 100% of respondents said that the exercise team offered “the right amount of contact” during lockdown. When GenesisCare rolled out small group sessions via the app, the majority of users joined.
“The app is helping people learn to enjoy exercise,” said Joshila, “and you can’t underestimate the long-term significance of that. We’ve had patients saying “I can promise you this – I will not stop exercising now”. It’s been an incredibly powerful intervention.”
Leading the way in exercise as medicine for oncology patients
When GenesisCare started offering exercise as part of cancer treatment in 2018, they were ahead of the curve. The Chartered Association of Physiotherapy has now recognised physiotherapy in exercise oncology as a specialism and is increasing momentum in this area.
“Technogym have helped us be leaders in the field,” she said. “Our fantastic results make a strong case for exercise medicine as a powerful intervention that has benefits during cancer treatment and beyond.”
Joshila hopes that other cancer care providers will recognise the significance of implementing exercise medicine for oncology.
“Our Exercise Medicine app is priceless – it has become a key part of supporting patients throughout their journey and we are grateful to Technogym for their support.”