UGA collaboration results in cancer resource center for area residents

Athens, Ga. – Faculty and students at the University of Georgia have worked together to bring much-needed information to area residents about cancer and cancer caregiving issues. At Kroger Pharmacy on Alps Road in Athens and CVS Pharmacy in Hull, a free health resource kiosk, Local Health Net, is now in place as the country’s first one-stop cancer resource center.

The user-friendly touch screen system, supplied by Lifeclinic International, includes a 24-hour phone hotline to the American Cancer Society and links to health-related cancer resources. In addition, the kiosk can take blood pressure, measure a users’ weight, calculate BMI and transmit data from glucose meters to a member’s personal health record.

“This project is truly a collaborative effort, especially among students at the College of Pharmacy, the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, the College of Education and the New Media Institute,” said Dr. Robert Galen, a professor at the College of Pharmacy.

Galen is the principal investigator for a cancer research grant sponsored by the Georgia Cancer Coalition’s Regional Program of Excellence and Caregiver Education Program that funded the project. He noted that journalism students developed the promotional materials, news releases and public services announcements; pharmacy students researched technical information, located local resources and provided content under the supervision of graduate student Beth Barnett; and education students performed the evaluation, including interviews with cancer patients and their caregivers at the Loran Smith Cancer Center at Athens Regional Medical Center. New Media Institute students designed and programmed the Web site and accompanying databases.

“We hope to provide a centralized database that can answer all types of questions regarding cancer,” said Galen. “Many people don’t know the basics about screening for and recognizing cancer, let alone where to buy a wig for patients going through chemotherapy or counseling opportunities for families. While the services available to patients have increased over the years, utilization has been somewhat limited due to the lack of a common access point to these varied resources.”

Being diagnosed with a life-threatening disease such as cancer is a very stressful and traumatic experience, but patients today have more treatment choices than ever before, Galen added. Despite advances, however, the maximum benefits available from the expansion of treatment choices have not been fully realized, he noted. The kiosk’s telephone connection to the American Cancer Society Information Center is for patients requiring more information or having difficulty using the kiosk.

If the kiosk approach proves to be a success, Galen and his team are committed to expanding the kiosk network throughout the state via the GCC Regional Programs of Excellence. Collaborating faculty include Jeff Springston in the Grady College; Lorilee Sandmann in education; Chris Cook in pharmacy; and Tom Cona at the New Media Institute.