Acceptability and safety of telemedicine to assess patients before chemotherapy
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Acceptability and safety of telemedicine to assess patients before chemotherapy

Linda Purandare Nurse consultant in medical oncology and lead research nurse, Royal Bournemouth Hospital, Bournemouth, Dorset
Tamas Hickish Consultant medical oncologist, Royal Bournemouth Hospital, Bournemouth, Dorset

Linda Purandare and Tamas Hickish describe a trial to evaluate the benefits of self-assessment at home

This project evaluated the acceptability and safety of using telemedicine to assess patients at home before chemotherapy prescription and administration.

A convenience sample of patients was selected by a consultant medical oncologist and invited to participate, with the option to return to hospital assessment if preferred.

Eleven patients took part, seven women and four men whose ages ranged from 64 to 83 years. A web-based system was programmed to capture data on vital statistics, performance status, chemotherapy toxicity and quality of life. Data were submitted by patients at home using internet-enabled tablet devices before scheduled chemotherapy administration. Safety was assessed by correlation of data with telephone consultation and hospital admission if necessary.

One patient experienced difficulty using the system and chose to return to hospital assessment. The remaining ten used the system successfully and accurately. The built-in alerts worked well. One patient was admitted to hospital with diarrhoea: the alerts had prompted a telephone consultation by the medical oncologist and earlier admission. Early instigation of corrective therapy reduced length of stay.

All ten patients volunteered favourable opinions of the system at follow-up appointments after treatment completion.

Remote pre-chemotherapy assessments using telemedicine were acceptable and safe in this small group. Careful patient selection is important to ensure that those chosen can understand and follow verbal and written instructions. A larger study is planned including collection of treatment data with patient experience and satisfaction surveys.

Cancer Nursing Practice. 14, 6,20-24. doi: 10.7748/cnp.14.6.20.e1209

Correspondence

linda.purandare@rbch.nhs.uk

Peer review

This article has been subject to double-blind review and has been checked using antiplagiarism software

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 10 April 2015

Accepted: 09 June 2015