I love seeing the results of studies like this, especially when it involves technology helping patients communicate better with their doctors. Based on personal experience, I can see this type of technology feedback being very useful in gleaning information from children who are undergoing chemotherapy and other cancer treatments – getting information out of children can be very difficult, and time is of the utmost importance. Being able to collect that data when problems arise would do wonders in helping the doctor more effectively care for the patient
In a study published by the Journal of Supportive Care in Cancer, researchers from Thomson Healthcare found that when cancer patients used a handheld computer before office visits to rate and report their pain, fatigue, and depression, doctors were significantly more likely to address these potentially debilitating symptoms and side effects. Thomson Healthcare is part of The Thomson Corporation (NYSE: TOC; TSX: TOC).
The three-year study, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, evaluated the PACE System(TM) (Patient Assessment, Care and Education), which uses notebook-sized tablet PCs equipped with touch-screen technology and specialized software. When patients arrived for office visits, they used the handheld computers to complete a self-assessment that automatically uploaded to a wireless network and produced a detailed, real-time report on their symptoms for their doctors.
Researchers assessed whether this technology effectively addressed a chronic problem in cancer treatment: chemotherapy side effects often are not reported, diagnosed, or treated because patients lack information about the success of interventions and physicians lack detailed, real-time information on patients’ symptoms.
“Many times, chemotherapy-related symptoms and side effects can be prevented or controlled, but they often go untreated because patients don’t bring them up and it’s challenging for a busy oncology practice to incorporate symptom screening into its daily workflow,” said Tami Mark, Ph.D., associate research director at Thomson Healthcare and lead investigator for the study. “This study found that the right technology can effectively address the problem without burdening physicians or their staffs.”