Remote symptom monitoring of home chemotherapy treatments is helping to boost the quality of life and reducing stress and anxiety among patients.
Research published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) shows a positive impact on symptom burden through the use of Advanced Symptom Management System (ASyMS).
Their findings were based on 829 patients aged 18 years or older, diagnosed with breast cancer, colorectal cancer, Hodgkin’s disease, or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and receiving chemotherapy at 12 cancer centres across several countries.
Analysis indicated “significant reductions” in favour of ASyMS for psychological and physical symptoms and for the level of distress associated with each symptom.
University of Strathclyde researchers said that phone-based ASyMS will make a “meaningful difference to people with cancer”.
Effective symptom monitoring and management are “essential” during chemotherapy treatments, according to the paper, but current approaches rely on the patients themselves to recognise the severity of their symptoms.
Study leader Professor Roma Maguire said: “With the majority of chemotherapy being delivered on an outpatient basis, what is important is to develop person-centred technologies that support people with cancer at home during periods when they are not at the hospital.
“Currently after receiving chemotherapy, most people have to go home and manage the symptoms and side-effects associated with their treatment on their own and importantly be able to recognise when their symptoms are severe enough for them to contact health professionals at their hospital.
“This can cause delays in reporting symptoms and cause significant anxiety to the individual involved.”
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Previous research on remote monitoring during chemotherapy has shown benefits but is largely based on short trials from a single site or country, making it difficult to draw wider conclusions.
BJM researchers said their latest findings suggest that a system such as ASyMS has “potential for implementation into routine care” to make a “meaningful difference” to people with cancer.
Remote monitoring systems will be vital for future services, particularly with blended models of care delivery arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, they add.
Maguire continued: “Our study demonstrates the benefits of remote patient monitoring on important patient outcomes including symptom burden, quality of life, supportive care needs and anxiety.
“The findings of our European study, combined with the existing evidence base, support the use of remote patient monitoring technologies such as ASyMS to support people with cancer during chemotherapy treatment.”