BarncancerAppen - so much more than an app


This, out of a technical perspective, quite simple app has ignited the flame of innovation, starting a staff-driven development of the whole patient flow for Childhood Cancer patients and will soon be available in several languages. In August an urgent daytime care unit opened addressing another key pain point and during 2017 we hope to be up and running with PEP (patientens egen provhantering/the patients own test handling).

BarncancerAppen = The childhood cancer app

All of this makes my "innovation coach heart" beat extra fast, since that is what we are all about!
Columnist: Julia Stenström, Innovation Coach at The Center for Innovation

Considering the highly specialized care for childhood cancer offered today, an analogue file, with all it's downsides (only in one place, not updated, usually a "shelf-warmer" amongst others) is not an option any longer.

With this project we did not simply digitize a file of papers, we created a dynamic source of information – in collaboration with patients and their families. We created a new way of working for staff, a constantly improving and updated go-to-source for patient-families (and friends), and most importantly, started exploring what all of the above makes possible.

I was lucky enough to help build the first functioning prototype of BarncancerAppen and experienced first-hand how, already in prototype-phase, it started something - it activated the innovation power from within our own organisation, not to mention the positive response from participating families.

Let me share a bit more about the project

Early 2016 The Center for Innovation collaborated with the Paediatric Oncology Unit to map out the different patient flows and the work processes related to them. Amongst others the lack of on-demand and updated patient-centred information was identified as a key pain point. Not only was this causing distress within the patient families, but countless phone calls relating to the same issues were taking up valuable time from staff - time that could be spent giving individual care to patients and support to their families.

There was talk of an app early on, long before we (The Center for Innovation) became involved, but it all seemed too techy and difficult to maintain. Lessons learned from similar app-projects within healthcare showed that traditional app-manufacturing, where continuous technical development is crucial to keep contents updated, was not an option since flexibility and of course budget were important constraints.

Not only did BarncancerAppen engage the already enthusiastic app-team comprising fully of staff members, it quickly became the proud product of the whole Paedriatic Oncology Unit – including the patients.

Our mission became to show that creating and maintaining an app can be done by those most knowledgeable, the staff at the oncology unit. We removed the mystique surrounding app creation and made available a tool that makes this possible.

Soon the Paediatric Oncology Unit had not only their very own appmaster, but a work group for the continuous development of BarncancerAppen was established - all of this in collaboration with patient families and the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation (that is funding the platform).

The first version of BarncancerAppen was released during the spring of 2016 and it has been alive since then, improving and growing. Not only is it an invaluable source of information, it is absolutely crucial in communicating day-to-day changes and developments using push-messages to alert users of updated content about, for instance, the big move to our new hospital building, visitation-restrictions or new guidelines.

I cannot wait to see and partake in all the spin-offs from this catalyst-project

Not only did BarncancerAppen engage the already enthusiastic app-team comprising fully of staff members, it quickly became the proud product of the whole Paedriatic Oncology Unit.
One could say that working with the information flow (for the app) acted as a catalyst, not only for process improvements, but also lighting the innovation-flame within the organization.

I repeat myself: it is not the fact that Barncancerappen is an app that makes it special!


The treatment for childhood cancer usually stretches over more than a year, with patients spending a lot of time at home between treatments, meaning that up-to-date, on-demand information is vital for optimal quality of life (under the circumstances) for the whole family.

Barncancerappen is a collaboration between Astrid Lindgren Children's hospital, The Center for Innovation, both a part of Karolinska University Hospital, and Barncancerfonden (The Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation).

More about Barncancerappen

About the Center for Innovation