Technology is making our lives more interconnected. We can surf the Internet for information on our terms, get our email on our smart phone, and even find turn-by-turn directions to some distant location with the click of a button.
In a recent pilot study, Ohio State University Medical Center (OSUMC) cancer experts provide breast cancer patients with mobile devices loaded with step-by-step guides to help manage their treatments. Patients track symptoms as they occurred and, if needed, get on-demand advice from their doctor, putting him or her literally in the palm of their hands.
Dr. Doug Post at the OSUMC James Comprehensive Cancer Center helped develop the program. He says if a patient is having problems with fatigue, a video pops up on the smart phone for the patients to watch on how to talk to their doctor about their fatigue. Since breast cancer patients can often go two or three weeks between treatments, many women forget or downplay pain, fatigue and depression.The device helps the women track the symptoms as they occur so doctors can better customize care for each patient. Before each office visit, Physicians received printouts of patients’ symptoms based on their devices’ tracking function.
“While patients often think it’s normal to feel fatigue, pain and depression during their treatment, they may not realize that help is available, especially if they don’t share concerns with their physicians,” Dr. Post said. “If symptoms aren’t discussed, they’re likely not going to be treated, and untreated symptoms generally get worse.”
Ohio State researchers say the study—the first of its kind in the country—was so successful they want to expand their efforts. How successful? When compared with a control group who received conventional care for chemotherapy treatment, the mobile device group experienced less pain and better communicated with their doctors. Dr. Post presented the study’s findings Oct. 5 during the International Conference on Communication in Healthcare held in Miami Beach, Florida.