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Cancer Care AB

Oral Chemotherapy Gets a Spotlight


Information about oral chemotherapy treatment was unapproachable for patients and confusing for practitioners.


Utilize virtual tools to share information and create community learning


Accessible information through short videos allows people taking oral chemotherapy an opportunity to revisit, absorb and understand what they need to know; Virtual group information sessions are level-setting for new patients, easy to attend and helpful for creating peer relationships


Addictions and Mental Health Branch - Government of Alberta


Broad community engagement

Journey map

Peer-led interviews

User Research

Discovery workshops


Journey map

User interviews

Design sprints

Codesign workshops


Ideation workshops

Prototyping workshops

Persona development

Oral chemotherapy is a new and exciting option for cancer treatment, but information about this treatment is constantly developing, leaving patients and practitioners without full confidence that they know all they need to know. Current methods used to inform patients and providers are full of technical and medical jargon, and patients sometimes were so intimidated by oral chemotherapy information that they refused to consider it as an option. 

Meanwhile, practitioners had no method to confirm patient understanding, and sometimes patients received multiple points of explanation from physicians, pharmacists and nurses – leaving everyone feeling inefficient, frustrated and redundant.

What we did

We approached this project with a sprint framework, utilizing the 6 stages of design. Once we brought together a diverse group of nurses, educators, administrators and front-line managers, we arranged interviews with patients who had experience with oral chemotherapy. These qualitative interviews pointedly explored how patients had felt before, during, and after their experience with oral chemotherapy.

This information was visualized with a journey map, and our team quickly understood that the oral chemo information dump, at a time of severe distress, was ineffective in its timing, approach, language, and reinforcement. This perspective was validated with a group of oncologists and cancer care nursing staff, as well as with a group of oral chemotherapy patients who were not able to.

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Sprint methodology

"Ali and Erin kept our team focused on how to improve the experience for oral chemo patients – and prototypes we created were so much more than what we thought we could do. We never imagined that we could be directly involved in changing how patients learned about oral chemotherapy!"

How we did it

The design team used four personas of people receiving oral chemotherapy, and used these as guidelines for the type of resources provided, opportunities for information, and baselines for reliable navigation. The team decided to focus on two areas to innovate: an initial virtual group information session for patients newly prescribed oral chemotherapy, and a series of short videos that were medication specific. The design team split into two groups, each tackling one idea.

Prototypes were built quickly; the video team used themselves as actors, quickly created a script for the drug Capecitabine and filmed a 4-minute video using an iPhone. Published to Youtube, the video was shared widely with oral chemo patients and a survey was used to gather feedback.

The other team worked quickly to develop an hour-long webinar with oral chemotherapy recipients to determine if the right tone, information and opportunity to ask questions was created. The session was hosted by Zoom and afterward participants were asked to anonymously contribute feedback.

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A sample of some of our ideation and solution sketches


As the information webinar was modelled on sessions usually held in person, many participants appreciated the opportunity to join virtually. There were some concerns that the pacing was too quick, or that one person could dominate the conversation, and so adjustments were made to help facilitators meet these needs. The design team is working with Patient Education to finalize the webinar sessions for use in Winter 2022.

The videos were well-received, and the project was approved to produce 15 additional medicine-specific short videos. The design team expects to have these videos ready for the public by the beginning of 2022.

Contact us for a free 30 minute consult.

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