The University of Leeds has developed and trialled a remote monitoring system for cancer patients.
The system, called eRAPID, allows early-stage cancer patients with colorectal, breast or gynaecological cancers to report their symptoms from home. Patients then receive instant advice on whether to seek medical attention or self-manage.
It’s believed that that this is the first trial of its kind to offer automated advice and one of only a few to focus on early-stage cancer patients.
Funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the trial was intended to find out if symptom control could be improved by automated advice, thereby enhancing monitoring, management, treatment delivery and quality of life, and reducing physical distress.
According to the University, feedback from patients included better symptom control and physical wellbeing during the early weeks of treatment, while the system prevented deterioration in 9% of patients after 12 weeks. By the end of the four-month trial, patients reported improved confidence in managing their own health.
Programme lead Professor Galina Velikova, of the Institute of Medical Research at St James’s and Leeds Cancer Centre, said: “Rising numbers of cancer patients are receiving a range of anti-cancer treatments which means patients are living longer and require longer periods of care and monitoring.
“Remote online monitoring options have the potential to be a patient-centred, safe and effective approach to support patients during cancer treatment and manage the growing clinical workload for cancer care.”
The trial included 508 patients, between the ages of 18 to 86, who were starting chemotherapy at Leeds Cancer Centre. Of all participants, 256 of the patients received the eRAPID system as additional care.
Patients were asked cancer-related questions about topics such as pain and nausea, through an online symptom report once a week, or when experiencing new symptoms, for the duration of the study. A computer algorithm, designed by researchers and clinicians, scored the responses using symptom severity grades to determine the advice.
At the end of trial there had been an average of 13 reports per patient, with 3,314 online reports completed overall. Of the reports, 1% were emergency alerts and 14% serious symptoms not requiring immediate medical attention, while over 80% triggered self-management advice, providing a remote and cost-effective solution that didn’t increase hospital workload.
You can find out more about the eRAPID trial at the Patient Centred Outcome Research site.