Cancer symptoms due to disease progression or side effects caused by cancer treatment are prevalent. Most cancer patients are treated in outpatient settings, having to self-manage these symptoms at home. For a variety of reasons, symptom self-management by patients and their caregivers can be a tremendous burden on themselves, resulting in suboptimal patient outcomes and increased healthcare costs due to unnecessary hospitalizations or clinic visits. The goal of this project is to develop a home-based Cancer Symptom Management (CSM) system to promote patient self-management of cancer symptoms and treatment side effects and facilitate remote management by the care team. The anticipated benefits include improved patient self-reported outcomes, better self-efficacy, better patient-provider communication, and reduced hospital stays/clinic visits. This is a Fast Track application. Our Phase I aims include: 1) the collection and analysis of system requirements via focus groups and interviews;2) the design and development of a working prototype via iterative user- centric design and object-oriented software development methodologies;and 3) the evaluation of system usability and user acceptance via a small-scale pilot test. Our Phase II aims include: 1) the development of the final product by adding multimedia patient education contents and by thoroughly examining system architecture level issues such as performance, scalability, and maintainability;and 2) a larger-scale randomized controlled trial at two clinical sites to evaluate the efficacy of our symptom management solution.
The proposed work is intended to improve access to care, promote patient self-management, facilitate provider-patient communication, and ultimately improve clinical outcomes and reduce healthcare costs. The effort is of particular public health interest since with the aging population the number of oncology patients is expected to increase and telemedicine technologies could facilitate more accessible quality care for patients in remote rural locations as well as frail or disabled patients in urban settings. In addition, home-based symptom management solutions could reduce unnecessary emergency room and clinic visits, hence reducing healthcare costs as well as conserving energy.