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Tech Takeover: New Tools and Resources to Improve Cancer Care

LAUREN M. GREEN @OncNurseEditor | June 23, 2016
Healthcare practitioners know all too well how technology has transformed their workplace. These changes can be a bane or a blessing—sometimes both—as many nurses and other clinicians will attest.
Healthcare practitioners know all too well how technology has transformed their workplace. These changes can be a bane or a blessing—sometimes both—as many nurses and other clinicians will attest.

On the one hand, mobile symptom-monitoring apps, health trackers, social media, and specialized websites can empower patients with cancer to better manage their disease and at the same time, help to connect them with a supportive network of advocates, patients, survivors, and caregivers on the same journey.

On the other hand, some experts and many patients and family members worry that all this technology can sometimes be dehumanizing, hin­dering that all-important clinician–patient human interaction. In her column this month, Oncology Nursing News editor-in-chief Lisa Schulmeister, MN, RN, ACNS-BC, FAAN, writes about this need to pro­vide “high-touch” care in a high-tech world, noting that the realities of high-tech care, which frequently requires practitioners to focus their attention on laptops or machines, can leave them little time to focus on the patient.

Whatever your particular take on how this tech­nology has impacted oncology nursing practice, it is here to stay. Healthcare systems and tech giants like Apple are enlisting technology and clinical ex­perts to help them develop tech-based solutions to address healthcare delivery challenges and improve the patient experience. And, Microsoft is now col­laborating with scientists to analyze large numbers of internet queries and search patterns to identify early signals of a subsequent cancer diagnosis. In their recent study of such indicators in pancreatic cancer, investigators were able to identify 5% to 15% of cases of adenocarcinoma, with low rates of false-positives.1

The good news is, oncology nurses—ever the problem-solvers looking to advance patient care—are coming up with and deploying their own ideas in the clinic.

Systematic Symptom Monitoring

At the recent 2016 Annual Meeting of the Ameri­can Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), research­ers shared impressive results from a pilot study conducted in France of a lung cancer symptom-reporting app known as MoovCare. MoovCare resulted in a 7-month longer survival for those who used the app when compared with controls (19 vs 12 months, respectively). Additionally, 75% of the patients followed through MoovCare were still alive at 1 year versus 49% with standard procedures.2

MoovCare is a software application that patients or their caregiver use to report symptoms. The algorithm analyzes the information for signals of potential relapse or complications and, if necessary, notifies the oncology care provider via email. The app can be accessed on mobile and desktop devices.

The system made a difference for patients because it resulted in early detection of dangerous conditions or recurrences, resulting in healthier in­dividuals who were better able to undergo optimal therapy and earlier supportive care that improved quality of life, reported lead study author Fabrice Denis, MD, PhD, at an ASCO press conference.

Having these tools available as we try to deliver better care will be very important, said Patricia Ganz, MD, of UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and ASCO Expert in breast cancer, who moderated the press panel.

Talk about this article with nurses and others in the oncology community in the General Discussions Oncology Nursing News discussion group.
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