Physics Department Seminar
Dr. John Kildea
Associate Professor
McGill University
Thursday, January 31, 2019


Opal - Empowered Patients, Informed Research

Opal ( is a person-centered patient portal smartphone app that was built at and has been released to cancer patients at the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal. Opal was designed with two goals in mind: (1) to empower patients, and (2) to inform research.

Opal empowers cancer patients with access to their electronic medical records (appointment schedules, lab results, clinical notes, etc) and automatically-personalized educational material tailored to their disease and phase of treatment. For example, it can automatically advise a patient on how to prepare for an upcoming appointment, provide a map of where to go, and facilitate appointment check-in and call-in so that the patient does not need to wait in the waiting room. It can also display the radiotherapy treatment planning process and let patients follow the progress of their treatment plans.

As a research tool, Opal is designed to collect patient-reported outcomes. It is also designed to operate in a multi-institutional context so that patients can communicate with and access all of their data from multiple hospitals at once. With their multi-institution data in hand, consenting patients can donate them to research studies, facilitating patient-powered multi-institutional data linkage for real-world evidence research.

This presentation will describe the history of the Opal project, the technology behind it, the stakeholder co-design process that was used to build it, and the research projects that are now forming around it.