Susan Beck Discusses Technology-Enhanced Interventions to Improve Patient Outcomes

October 2, 2014
Susan Larsen Beck PhD, APRN, FAAN, AOCN

Susan Larsen Beck PhD, APRN, FAAN, AOCN, professor, College Of Nursing, University of Utah, Member, Cancer Control and Population Sciences Program, Huntsman Cancer Institute, discusses two trials evaluating the efficacy of having an IT-integrated, computer-based telephone system for monitoring patient-reported symptoms.

Susan Larsen Beck PhD, APRN, FAAN, AOCN, professor, College Of Nursing, University of Utah, Member, Cancer Control and Population Sciences Program, Huntsman Cancer Institute, discusses two trials evaluating the efficacy of having an IT-integrated, computer-based telephone system for monitoring patient-reported symptoms.

Beck says she and her team are trying to develop a system to better monitor patient symptoms once they were home after receiving chemotherapy. Usually, patients are reluctant to call once they are home and just normalize themselves with their symptoms.

In order to capture the period from when a patient goes home after receiving chemotherapy and their next doctor’s appointment, Beck and her team developed an automated system where patients could call in on a daily basis to be screened for a variety of symptoms that are common during chemotherapy. If they developed the symptoms at a threshold level, an alert was sent to their oncology physician and nurse, Beck says.

The results showed that the system worked great: the patients liked it and called in regularly but the physicians and nurses either didn’t follow-up with the patients or they normalize it. Therefore, the patient’s outcomes didn’t improve.

In a second study, advanced practice nurses were assigned to case-manage the symptoms of the patients. This case-management system was comprised of all the information recorded from the patient and accessible by the nurse practitioners.

Beck says an evidence-based approach was developed for the nurse practitioner to respond to the symptoms. This study worked very well and showed that patients had more symptom-free days when they received the follow-up care.

Beck and her team are currently looking into how to expand the system so it can be used in practice, Beck says.