Automated texts may also lessen the workload on nurses.
What if cancer patients could better self-manage their medications via text message reminders? How might that affect the treatment of their disease?
A study underway at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City may answer some of those questions. Researchers at the cancer center at testing the effectiveness of mobile technology intervention on breast cancer patients' self-management of the oral anticancer medication Ibrance (palbociclib).
A major concern for patients on oral anti-cancer therapy is their ability to self-manage the treatment regimen, a role that includes making sure the medications are taken on time, proper diagnostic testing, and attending scheduled doctor visits, the researchers wrote in an article in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.
Patients who do not effectively self-manage may experience inappropriate dosing,
inadequate laboratory monitoring, failure to report side effects, and further cancer metastases, according lead author Ann M. Mazzella Ebstein and her colleagues. “Since patients with metastatic breast cancer require oral anticancer medication for extended periods, it becomes imperative that healthcare providers find interventions that facilitate access to supportive resources to help patients self-manage their anti-cancer therapy,” Ebstein and the others wrote.
The smartphone may be an untapped resource that can fundamentally improve a patient's ability to self-manage their oncologic treatment regimens while improving communication and satisfaction with healthcare providers, they added.
The study will test whether text messaging support will decrease the necessity for patient-initiated phone conversations and help manage the workload of nurses. “Mobile technology actively engages the patient as an equal partner in determining their health care and thus has the potential to change future care delivery models,” they wrote.
Unidirectional text message reminders will be sent during the treatment cycle through a secure web application using the patient's smartphone. The researchers will collect self-reported survey responses at three time points: at consent, at the end of treatment cycles, and at the follow-up clinic visits.
Comparing a regular breast cancer patient group and an intervention group, the researchers will also compare demographics, quality of life, laboratory testing, and the nurse's workload in caring for the study patients.
“Given the importance of taking oral anti-cancer medications and the difficulties patients experience in achieving it, the effective use of mobile technology interventions can actively engage patients in their care and improve medication self-management of anticancer treatment regimens,” the researchers wrote.