The number of ways in which connected care technology can be used to improve patient awareness and monitoring is well-documented.
The U.S. President’s Cancer Panel, in a recent report to President Obama, defines connected care as technologies that can be used to “promote cancer prevention, enhance the experience of cancer care for patients and care teams, and accelerate progress in cancer research.”
Some of the basic elements of connectivity are already available in many developed economies, including electronic health records (EHRs), internet access and smart phones. In the case of oncology care, the biological complexity of cancer and the necessity of using multispecialty care teams to treat it, makes the use of technology especially important for more efficient collection and communication of information. It is also important for connecting patients, especially those with rare forms of cancer, and helping to support them.
The most recent data available indicates that 84% of Americans now have internet access, 68% have smart phones, and the clear majority of hospitals have at least basic EHRs, which were required under the HITECH Act of 2009, according to a recent article from the U.S. National Cancer Institute.3
The NCI report highlights five priorities for advancing connected health:
- ensuring that health IT systems and applications are interoperable
- enabling individuals to manage their health and participate in their care
- making sure federal programs and health IT tools support the cancer workforce
- expanding internet access for healthcare providers, individuals and organisations;
- facilitating data sharing and integration to help improve care, surveillance, and the progression of research.
As part of this process, the report recommends the creation of tools and services to help individuals identify cancer-related clinical trials appropriate to them and to flag perceived errors in their medical records, as well as IT tools to “help support the oncology workforce as it delivers care.”4
Indeed, the Future Health Index Report quoted a Japanese physician as saying that connected care devices will make it easier to collect health data from patients receiving home care in remote regions, which will help to improve the quality of care.5