Originally posted on ASCO Connection
I’m looking forward to the 2014 Palliative Care Symposium in Boston. Our session on”The Three Ms of Symptom Science—Mechanisms, Measurement, and Management” will highlight some of the cutting-edge information about symptoms. I’ll be talking about the third M, management, and I’ll focus on patient-reported outcomes (PROs) and novel electronic systems which facilitate PROs. These electronic tools are truly instrumental in driving this science forward. It’s all about integrating patients’ perspectives into clinical practice and using tools that measure patients’ experiences of their health.
Here’s an example of a patient scenario that occurred last week. The patient was newly diagnosed with cervical cancer, a young woman with small children still at home. When she filled out the distress thermometer in the waiting room she reported no distress. Following this paperwork, we enrolled her into our Patient-Reported Outcomes study, which uses a novel electronic platform to measure multiple symptoms and then creates a plan of care that is individualized for the patient. She proceeded through each question on the iPad and truly “spilled” her thoughts onto the keyboard. She rated fatigue at 8 out of 10, pain at 7, sleep disturbance at 8, and anxiety as severe. She also reported concerns about her sexuality. Her three concerns for the provider visit were managing pain, finding out when radiation therapy would start, and understanding her prognosis.
As our supportive care team was reviewing the patient’s data, we had to ask ourselves, “Why didn’t the distress thermometer capture this patient’s distress? And what was it about the new electronic tool that facilitated this patient’s expression of key symptoms?” These are some of the research questions that exist about PROs. Capturing patient symptoms is critical in developing an appropriate plan of care. During the session, I will be discussing some of the research being conducted in this area, and I’ll be demonstrating some systems that are being developed to facilitate patient reporting. I’m also excited to learn from the audience about methods and systems used to promote PROs. It should be a great way to start the meeting with rich discussion on this important topical area. I hope you’ll join us on October 24-25.