Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Cancer bodies study mhealth for monitoring patients

Steve Rogerson
October 16, 2018

Six cancer organisations across the USA are participating in a study to find whether mhealth technology can reduce time spent in hospital following surgery or chemotherapy.
Participating in the Simpro Research Center programme will be the Lifespan Cancer Institute (LCI), Dana-Farber/Brigham & Women’s Cancer Center, Baptist Memorial Medical Center, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, West Virginia University Cancer Institute and Maine Medical Center.
The study will look at whether having patients electronically report their symptoms can decrease hospitalisations following surgery or chemotherapy. LCI’s participation in this study will be led by Don Dizon (pictured), director of medical oncology at Rhode Island Hospital.
The project will create a reporting and management system within Epic, the health record used by the consortium members and many health systems around the country. Patients’ smart devices will enable a secure connection to their cancer care team via the electronic health record system – called LifeChart at Lifespan facilities – and facilitate symptom tracking following procedures and treatments.
The study will test whether monitoring the symptoms patients experience and providing coaching on how to manage them can decrease the need for hospitalisations and emergency room visits.
“Patient-reported outcomes have been shown to help providers and patients connect outside of the usual clinical visit,” said Dizon. “Compared to usual clinical visits, one study showed that allowing patients living with metastatic cancer to use a platform to report symptoms electronically not only led to lower rates of emergency room visits and other health care costs, but also helped patients survive longer. The initial project will aim to help patients undergoing cancer surgery report their symptoms in real time and to see if we can help them recover safely and reduce costs associated with issues requiring readmission to the hospital.”
After development and pilot testing, the system will be fully integrated into Epic at each participating centre, allowing for direct communications and real-time updates for clinicians who will have access to a dashboard of patients’ symptoms to prioritise outreach efforts and coaching.
“Post-operative symptom management is an underutilised strategy for improving surgical care,” said Sandra Wong, chief of surgery at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and a co-principal investigator on the project. “This work will help us understand how surgeons should implement electronic patient-reported outcomes especially for patients who travel great distances for their operations.”
The programme will be led nationally by Wong and fellow principal investigators Debra Schrag from Dana Farber/Brigham & Women’s Cancer Center and Raymond Osarogiagbon from Baptist Memorial.