Study: Electronic symptom tracking improves cancer patients’ quality of life, physical function

Weekly digital symptom-tracking surveys improved physical function, symptom management and health-related quality of life amongst cancer sufferers, in keeping with a research revealed in JAMA

In a randomized trial that included 52 practices and 1,191 sufferers receiving therapy for metastatic cancer, researchers discovered statistically vital enhancements in secondary outcomes like function and quality of life after a 3 month follow-up in contrast with traditional care. Outcomes on the first final result, total survival, weren’t but out there.

Within the survey group, sufferers have been requested to finish a weekly survey on-line or by way of an automatic telephone system for one yr. They have been requested about signs like ache, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, dyspnea, insomnia and despair. 

The survey additionally included questions on consuming and consuming, falls, monetary challenges and their potential to take care of themselves and do each day duties. If a affected person reported extreme or worsening signs, an alert was triggered for the care workforce.

“On this report of secondary outcomes from a randomized medical trial of adults receiving cancer therapy, use of weekly digital PRO surveys to watch signs, in contrast with traditional care, resulted in statistically vital enhancements in physical function, symptom management and HRQOL at 3 months, with imply enhancements of roughly 2.5 factors on a 0- to 100-point scale. These findings needs to be interpreted provisionally pending outcomes of the first final result of total survival,” the research’s authors wrote. 


Researchers famous that figuring out signs early can forestall them from getting worse and inflicting issues. Additionally they discovered that almost all sufferers have been capable of full the surveys, though they have been sick and a few had restricted expertise with know-how. 

Nonetheless, in addition they discovered the impact was smaller than in earlier single-center trials, and it diminished over time. Contributors within the intervention group have been additionally extra more likely to drop out, which might imply they discovered the survey burdensome. 

Different limitations embrace the lacking major final result, restricted language choices for surveys, an absence of blinding and no management for the extra consideration the survey group might have acquired from suppliers. 

Although the research demonstrates the potential advantages of symptom tracking for cancer sufferers, using the system might nonetheless be difficult for practices. 

“Implementation requires know-how, affected person engagement, workers effort and modification of info stream. A previous evaluation of person suggestions from this trial discovered excessive ranges of enthusiasm from sufferers and clinicians. Nonetheless, nurses reported that alerts might be burdensome until there may be devoted time to handle the alerts,” researchers wrote.

“Regardless of price financial savings related to PRO monitoring for insurance coverage firms, at present funding isn’t out there to maintain further prices to clinics of know-how and staffing within the U.S.”


There are a variety of cancer-focused digital well being firms available on the market. As an illustration, Finnish-born Kaiku Well being just lately partnered with pharma and diagnostics large Roche to supply Kaiku’s instruments for cancer symptom administration and assist to clinics and sufferers.

In the meantime, cancer-care-coordination platform Jasper Well being and residential care and distant monitoring firm Reimagine Care each just lately raised $25 million in funding. 

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