In 2018, more than 1.7 million Americans will receive a new cancer diagnosis and nearly 600,000 will die from their disease. Cancer treatments, including major surgical resection and palliative chemotherapy, are associated with frequent adverse symptoms. The primary burden for managing symptoms falls on patients and their caregivers, and there is ample evidence that untreated symptoms impair quality of life, lead to inefficient use of emergency care, avoidable hospitalizations, and even shorten survival. Electronic tracking of patient- reported outcomes (ePROs) between face-to-face clinic visits has been shown to both reduce symptom burden and decrease the need for acute care. Although there is abundant evidence that symptom monitoring can improve cancer care, current experience has been largely limited to single centers or as part of clinical trials. Using ePROs to facilitate symptom control is an attractive strategy but, evidence for effectiveness in different treatment contexts and across varied populations is needed. Further, ePRO tracking systems have not been fully integrated into health systems' electronic health records (EHR) and this deficit prevents them from delivering the maximal benefits of proactive symptom management. To fill gaps in the evidence base about the optimal strategy for deploying ePROs, a multidisciplinary team from 6 health systems have formed the Symptom Management IMplementation of Patient Reported Outcomes in Oncology (SIMPRO) Research Center. SIMPRO's overarching goal is to develop, implement, and evaluate a multi-component ePRO reporting and management system to improve symptom control for patients recovering from cancer surgery or patients receiving palliative chemotherapy in small, rural, and community cancer centers.
The Specific Aims of the project are to: (1) Adapt existing ePRO symptom management systems and integrate them into the EHR and routine clinical workflow at six health systems; (2) Determine the effectiveness of an EHR-integrated ePRO symptom management system on health outcomes; and (3) Evaluate the facilitators and barriers to implementation of an EHR-integrated ePRO symptom management system from the patient, clinical and organizational perspectives. Following the adaptation of operational ePRO prototypes and full integration into an EHR, the SIMPRO investigators will conduct a pragmatic cluster randomized trial with stepped wedge rollout to investigate the effectiveness of a symptom monitoring system from a patient, clinician and health system perspective. Across all study phases, the implementation process itself, including ePRO adoption, appropriateness, acceptability, penetration/scalability, and adaptation, will be critically evaluated. This approach will create knowledge that can be used to guide dissemination of ePROs and other interventions to improve cancer care delivery.

Public Health Relevance

Electronic tracking of patient-reported outcomes (ePROs) has been shown to reduce symptom burden related to cancer treatment, however, evidence for the effectiveness of these systems is limited to large cancer centers and optimal strategies for implementation are uncertain. The proposed 6-site Research Center will adapt existing ePRO symptom management systems, integrate them into an EHR and conduct a pragmatic cluster randomized trial with stepped wedge rollout to investigate the effectiveness of ePRO monitoring to alleviate symptom burden following major cancer surgery or during receipt of palliative chemotherapy. The project will focus on implementation outcomes so that knowledge about the strategies that facilitate adoption and sustainability can inform deployment of this intervention in other contexts.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Research Project with Complex Structure Cooperative Agreement (UM1)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZCA1)
Program Officer
Tuovinen, Priyanga
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
United States
Zip Code