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Six Hospital Systems Launch Research Center on Symptom Management


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SIX HOSPITAL systems across the country are launching a new research collaboration 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. 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.

SIMPRO will enable patients to report their symptoms in real time using their smartphone or home computers. Reported symptoms will be integrated in the patients’ electronic health record, allowing providers to quickly access and respond to them.

Deborah Schrag, MD, MPH

Deborah Schrag, MD, MPH

“This multicenter research consortium will deploy [a] system-level proactive approach to symptom management, [modern] communication strategies, and team science to decrease patients’ symptoms and keep them out of the hospital,” said Deborah Schrag, MD, MPH, a medical oncologist and Chief of the Division of Population Sciences at Dana-Farber—and one of the co–principal investigators on this initiative. “If successful, this system has the potential to be a win-win-win for patients, clinicians, and health-care systems alike,” she noted.

Electronic Patient-Reported Outcome System

SIMPRO WILL develop, implement, and evaluate an electronic– patient-reported outcomes reporting and management system— an app called eSyM. Patients’ smart devices will enable a secure connection to their cancer care team via their electronic health record and will facilitate symptom tracking after cancer surgery or chemotherapy. The study 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. The SIMPRO team will work with Epic, a widely used comprehensive health record software.

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.

Michael Hassett, MD, MPH

Michael Hassett, MD, MPH

“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 Michael Hassett, MD, MPH, a medical oncologist at Dana-Farber, who is serving as the SIMPRO Project Technical Lead in partnership with Epic.

The SIMPRO investigators will conduct a randomized trial to evaluate implementation of eSyM from patient, clinician, and health-system perspectives. Across all study phases, the implementation, adoption, acceptance, and adaptation of the eSyM system will be critically evaluated to promote better delivery of cancer care.

For more detailed information about this project, please visit the SIMPRO Research Center at www.eSyMCancerMoonshot.org.


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