In Study, Cancer Patients Report Symptoms in Real Time

COVID-19’s seemingly endless lockdown had a potential benefit: the convenience of an online telemedicine visit to a health care provider.

No waiting room, no parking hassle and expense, no exposure to other people’s germs and no list of things to remember. We got an impression of what it is like to consult with our health care providers – from home.

The digital future is not far away. Digital systems already play a role in dealing with patients.

Real-time connection in patient care

Researchers at the University of North Carolina’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center wanted to know if outpatients with cancer who reported their symptoms in real time to their medical team would benefit from near-instant contact. The patients with metastatic or advanced cancer used a web or phone based digital reporting system.

Fifty-two community oncology practices in the United States were included in the PROTECT study. Half of the practices used the digital system.

The researchers used online questionnaires called electronic patient reports or ePROs. All they had to do was answer questions about their physical symptoms, mental health, and financial status on a five-point severity scale using the digital system.

Whenever someone reported severe symptoms or a worsening condition, they would receive an email with details of how the symptoms were managed. At the same time, a nurse received a warning for real-time intervention with this patient.

Overall, patients and healthcare providers found the system overwhelmingly useful. Results found:

Of 496 patients questioned in 26 practices, 95% said that the digital system was easy to understand.

– 93% found the system easy to use.

Of 57 nurses surveyed, 79% said reports were helpful in the clinical documentation of patient treatments.

– 75% of nurses said reports are useful for patient care.

Of 39 cancer doctors surveyed, 91% found the reports beneficial.

The electronic system was not problematic; In particular, patients reported selected information that was of limited value:

– 16% of the nurses surveyed said the reports rarely or never improved their conversations with patients.

– 14% of the nurses saw no improvement in the quality of care.

– 34.5% of the nurses felt they received a lot of warning messages.

– 93% of the nurses wanted to receive notifications of severe symptoms.

– 29.4% of the doctors surveyed rarely used the information to plan their discussions with patients.

“There is clearly a great enthusiasm for patients to connect with their care team through real-time electronic approaches, and providers recognize that value too, but we know it is not perfect. Our results are a way forward to the best Finding ways. ” incorporate patient-reported results into oncology practice, “lead researcher Ethan Basch, MD, said in a press release.

Why Virtual Care is important

The COVID-19 pandemic had hospitals investing in telemedicine or virtual care, which has helped patients who need medical attention but don’t need unnecessary visits.

An article by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) discussed what patients might get from virtual care:

Telemedicine reduces waiting and travel times for patients with the help of online appointments. Be prepared and avoid being late on the day of your appointment.

With high-tech equipment, doctors and nurses can check their patients in real time without their physical presence. This lets them know what is happening to people with chronic illnesses. If something goes wrong, they can act immediately.

However, if they have an acute or mild fever, patients can report it online first. You no longer have to leave your home to seek medical treatment right away. The consulting doctor can advise what the next step should be.

And if patients have internet service and a smartphone, they can use it to schedule prescription refills.

Overall, digital healthcare systems can work in your favor. You can consult your doctor in a few simple steps without having to worry about personal visits. Keep in mind, however, that telemedicine still does not replace the benefits of regular personal doctor visits.