WBB's Thought Leadership

Real-Time Symptom Reporting Helping Cancer Patients Live Longer

June 15

A study offered chemo patients the opportunity to report their symptoms in real-time resulting in extending their lives by an average of 5 months.

Rather than monthly updating at oncologist appointments, by reporting symptoms in real-time, nurses and other clinicians were able to monitor, assess, and treat symptoms of chemotherapy, allowing patients to receive treatment for longer.

Excerpt: “Doctors often don't hear about the serious side effects of chemotherapy because patients are reluctant to complain or don't have enough time to talk about such problems during jam-packed office visits, experts say.”

“Lead study author Ethan Basch, an oncologist at Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, acknowledges that a five-month improvement might sound modest. But, he notes, it is a greater benefit than what's provided by many targeted drugs for metastatic cancer.”

“The trial involved 766 patients who were receiving outpatient chemotherapy at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where Basch practiced before moving to Lineberger. The patients had a variety of cancer types, including prostate, breast and lung.”

“The study found that patients who reported their side effects more frequently via the Web-based tool got quick attention from nurses, who frequently adjusted medications for nausea, constipation and pain. As a result, Basch said, those patients had fewer emergency room visits, were able to tolerate chemo longer and were more active — all factors that contributed to their living five months longer than the patients who were not in the real-time reporting group.”

“Ramsey, who was not involved in the study, said that most oncology practices rely on patients to contact their offices when they run into trouble during chemotherapy. ‘But unfortunately, most patients don’t know when to call for help and often wait until it’s too late,’ he said. In Washington state, more than 50 percent of chemotherapy patients end up at the E.R. or in the hospital within six months of starting treatment, according to Ramsey”

“Challenges confront the implementation of real-time symptom reporting, including the way that electronic medical records are set up and a lack of reimbursement for physicians, Basch said. But those obstacles are surmountable, he added.”

SourcesWashington Post

WBB Take: Patient Generated Health Data (PGHD) offers patients a greater voice in the care process, and apps that interoperate with provider EHR systems can result in more efficient and more effective care. Integrated PGHD can also help to reduce medical errors and improve patient quality of life. When integrated at the data level with EHR and outcomes data, PGHD can enable advanced analytics and machine learning techniques such as process mining, to provide a better visualization of the patient journey.

Patient journey mapping with process-mining tools can enable providers and health planners to identify typical journey paths, and to notice paths that deviate from the norm and result in sub-optimal outcomes. Identifying typical paths enables planners to improve processes, hours, and services to better match patient journeys. Identifying paths that typically have high risk or tend to have sub-optimal outcomes can enable providers to devise early interventions to correct the patient trajectory.

Process mining is a key technology in visualization and measurement of processes such as patient journey, and can give providers a tool to plan earlier intervention when a patient journey is tracking down a path known to typically result in poor outcomes.

Cited by Shannen Irwin


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