Lisa Schiller, vice president of marketing at Rex Healthcare, takes keen interest in the hospital’s first mobile application.

The Rex Cancer Care “app” is being announced Friday.

And Schiller is a cancer survivor, so she knows first hand the needs, challenges as well as the fears that the app will hopefully address.

“I was diagnosed three and half years ago with primary peritoneal cancer, and was treated at Rex Cancer Center and UNC Medical Center,” Schiller explained.

“I understand that it’s our doctors, nurses and other caregivers who make such a difference for patients as they go through their cancer journey.

“Now that I’ve made it through to the other side of treatment, I’m so happy to be part of the team that is always looking for ways to make things easier on our patients.”

Rex developed the app along with SmartOnline, which is based in the Triangle. It’s available for Apple and Android devices at no cost and can be downloaded at the Apple iTunes App Store as well as the Google Play Android Store.

“Manage your treatment and your care in the palm of your hand,” Rex says in touting the app online.

The app is designed to help patients link appointment times, medications, communicate with their care team and also help build a community with others in similar situations through Facebook.

Users also can create a daily log and.

There’s even a virtual wig sampler.

And in the middle of the app’s screen, the user is asked “How do I feel today?”

Sharing, Scheduling – and More

Schillder wishes the app had been available when she first became ill.

“The Rex Cancer Care app would have been extremely helpful while I was undergoing treatment,” she said. “It would have given me one location to keep my health information that is with me all of the time.

“Instead of using notebooks and scraps of paper, it would have been so much easier to use my iPhone.

“I am using the Rex Cancer Care app now. I still have follow up appointments every six months.

“I’m using the treatment tracker feature to maintain my medication list, appointment schedule and lab test results.

“I also plan to participate in the patient connect feature, which is a private Facebook group for discussions with other patients and survivors.”

Schiller stressed that the app is a serious attempt to help people deal with an experience only thouse who have – or have had – cancer can describe.

“There are many benefits to using the new Rex Cancer Care app,” she explained. “Patients are able to set up a robust profile in the app that includes all of their specific care team members, including physicians, with easy access and contact information.

“They can track all of their treatment appointments, medications and lab results, along with a pain tracker to record their symptoms and side effects.

“Additionally, the patient engagement feature of the app offers music play lists to listen to during chemotherapy.

“There also are social tools to connect and chat with other patients and survivors, share stories, answer questions and offer support.

“Finally, the virtual resource center allows patients to take a photo of themselves and try on different wig styles. This is so helpful for patients who are uncomfortable trying on wigs where others can see them. It is a highly tailored experience for cancer patients that they cannot get from another universal health tracking app.”

In 2011, Rex treated more than 3,200 new cancer patients. Schiller is hopeful the app will benefit them as well as the “thousands” who return to Rex for followups.

“We developed the Rex Cancer Care app to enhance the patient care experience,” she said. “Our hope was to make life a little easier during a tough time for many people. Rex has taken a strategic and thoughtful approach to app development. We did not want to create an app for the sake of having an app or repeating what already exists on Rex’s mobile website.

“Our strategy is a focused approach to app development that benefits groups of patients. It’s about patient engagement and offering a tool that serves as a resource as patients navigate their medical care.”

Schiller wouldn’t discuss the cost of the app’s development but said SmartOnline was selected after a review process involving several firms.

“SmartOnline’s platform allows us to develop our own apps, which is a significant savings from traditional development methods,” she said. “In addition, the agile nature of the app development platform allows us to continually and easily test and update our apps moving forward, based on user feedback we receive in real time.

“We researched and interviewed other companies, prior to deciding to work with SmartOnline. We liked their approach and platform that enables us to build and update apps.”