BOSTON – The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is leading the launch of a research collaboration among six hospital systems to improve the reporting and management of cancer treatment-related symptoms.
The initiative, known as the SIMPRO Research Center, will integrate the use of patient-reported outcomes into the routine practice of oncology providers, with the goal of improving symptom management and decreasing hospitalizations. Patients will be able to report their symptoms in real-time using their smartphone or home computers. Reported symptoms will be integrated into the patient’s electronic health record, allowing providers to quickly access and respond to the patient. In many cases, patient symptoms like fatigue, nausea, dehydration and post-operative pain can be managed effectively at home through established practices, while others may require more immediate medical attention.
“This multi-center research consortium will deploy system-level proactive approach to symptom management, 21st century communication strategies and team science to decrease patients’ symptoms and keep them out of the hospital,” said Dr. Deborah Schrag, chief of the division of population sciences at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, in a statement.
SIMPRO will develop, implement and evaluate an ePRO reporting and management system—an app called eSyM. Patients’ smart devices will enable a secure connection to their cancer care team through the electronic health record and facilitate symptom tracking following cancer surgery or chemotherapy. The research will test whether monitoring the symptoms patients experience and providing coaching on how to manage them can decrease the need for hospitalizations and emergency room visits.
After development and pilot testing, eSyM will be fully integrated into the electronic health record at each participating center, allowing for direct communication and real-time updates for clinicians who will have access to a dashboard of patients’ symptoms to prioritize outreach efforts and coaching.
“From an informatics standpoint, this investment in the infrastructure of patient engagement, provider-patient communication and mobile health is likely to have a very large, positive impact on patients, providers, researchers and the health care community at large,” said Dr. Michael Hassett, the SIMPRO project technical lead in partnership with Epic, an electronic health records vendor, in a statement.
The SIMPRO investigators will conduct a randomized trial to evaluate implementation of eSyM from a patient, clinician and health system perspective.
SIMPRO is supported by a recently announced grant from The National Cancer Institute in association with the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot Initiative. The six collaborating sites are Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer, Baptist Memorial Medical Center Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lifespan Cancer Institute, West Virginia University Cancer Institute and Maine Medical Center.