Remote monitoring system for patients after completed oncological treatment, developed by Ewa Pawłowska, M.D. from the Department of Oncology & Radiotherapy of the MUG, allows not only to maintain contact between the patient and the oncologist between scheduled outpatient visits, but also enables faster detection of cancer recurrences. The HORUS application provides weekly surveys, the results of which are analyzed in real time, and in case of occurrence of disturbing symptoms, it enables the implementation of earlier diagnosis and treatment. It can be used by patients being under the care of the Oncology Clinic of the Oncology and Radiotherapy Clinic of the UCC in Gdańsk.
Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in Poland, both among women and men. Nearly 75% of cases are diagnosed in advanced stages. Unfortunately, despite modern therapies, cancer recurrences are relatively common.
European research from 2017 confirms that lung cancer patients who use the application to monitor their well-being after the end of standard treatment have significantly improved survival outcomes. As emphasized by Ewa Pawłowska, M.D., it was an inspiration to start work on a system that could be implemented in Polish conditions.
– In recent years, the effectiveness of remote monitoring of patients has been demonstrated, using electronic patient monitoring systems (ESMCh), analyzing in real time the symptoms reported by the patient via a website and/or smartphone application. In clinical trials, the analysis of symptoms reported weekly by patients in the EMCh allowed the diagnosis of recurrence of the cancer. 5 weeks earlier than standard doctor visits, enabling the implementation of oncological treatment to a greater percentage of patients – explains Ewa Pawłowska, M.D. – In addition, the use of the application extended the overall survival of patients compared to those undergoing standard controls. Access to the EMCh and the awareness of being under constant care improved the quality of life and reduced the stress associated with waiting for the results of follow-up tomography scans.
Patients participating in the study complete an electronic questionnaire once a week, which is then analyzed by an algorithm. In the event of reporting disturbing symptoms that may indicate a recurrence of cancer, the doctor receives an alert, after which he can call the patient and, if necessary, order additional tests or change the date of the scheduled visit to the outpatient clinic.
– Each week (Monday to Sunday) a new form with the same set of 13 well-being questions will be made available in the patient’s account. In order to save and send the form data for inspection by the Clinic’s employees, it will be necessary to answer the first six questions – Ewa Pawłowska, M.D. – All information reported by patients on a weekly basis in the application is analyzed immediately after filling out the form. In the event of disturbing symptoms, the Clinic’s employee contacts the patient by phone within 72 hours and informs about further proceedings.
Importantly, participation in the study does not change the standard procedure during visits to the Oncology Clinic. I also do not involve any risk, because as part of the study, patients will not have to perform additional laboratory tests, imaging or undergo other medical procedures.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
The HORUS project was financed by the Ministry of Education and Science under the “Incubator of Innovation 4.0” program. “Incubator of Innovation 4.0” is implemented by the MUG’s Technology Transfer Centre in a consortium consisting of: as a leader – the Medical University of Gdańsk, the University of Gdańsk and the MUG’s special purpose vehicle – Medical Innovation Centre.
The subject of the “Incubator of Innovation 4.0” is to support entities of the higher education and science system in the implementation of projects aimed at applying the results of scientific research in the economic or social sphere. As part of the project, the MUG scientists had the opportunity to apply for funding for R&D research, which is intended for additional pre-implementation work in order to increase the degree of implementation readiness of the proposed inventions. This gives the opportunity to establish contact with relevant economic entities interested in introducing a given solution to the market.
photo by Paweł Sudara/MUG