Reminder App With Postsurgery Instructions Well Received by Patients With Ovarian Cancer

Tony Berberabe, MPH
Published: Saturday, Jan 12, 2019
Ilana Graetz, PhD

Ilana Graetz, PhD

Nearly 1 in 5 women who undergoes ovarian cancer surgery is readmitted for complications, but a web-based app may improve patient monitoring so complications and adverse events can be addressed quickly by the patient’s care team. A feasibility trial to evaluate patient use of the Patient Care Monitor (PCM) app, which provides real-time symptom monitoring, was offered to patients from the West Cancer Center (WCC) in Memphis, Tennessee. Through the PCM app, which was downloaded to the patients’ smartphone, tablet, or other web-enabled device, patients were sent reminders about their discharge instructions and asked about potentially concerning symptoms (eg, fever, vaginal bleeding, swelling, pain). All symptoms reported from the app were integrated into the patient’s electronic health record.1

All participants completed 2 study questionnaires, one at baseline (before surgery) and one at follow-up (30 days after discharge). Quality of life was captured at baseline and follow-up using the SF-12, a 12-item instrument that provides summary composite scores for physical and mental health.

Figure. Sample Screenshot of App

Figure. Sample Screenshot of App After surgery, the patients were asked to click through 12 key discharge instructions based on the instructions given to all gynecological oncology surgery patients treated at the WCC upon discharge from the hospital. Participants were then asked about the following symptoms (which may be an early indicator of a potential complication): (1) fever; (2) vaginal bleeding; (3) vomiting; (4) wound drainage; (5) opening, redness, swelling, tenderness of incision; (6) shortness of breath; (7) chest pain; (8) swelling of one or both legs; (9) dizziness; (10) fast/irregular heartbeat; (11) change in appetite; (12) pain; or no symptoms to report (Figure). If participants reported any symptom, they then answered follow-up questions to help gauge the severity. Concerning symptoms triggered an alert, sent via email or text, to the patient’s WCC clinical care team. Graetz explained that the patients were encouraged to use the app immediately upon discharge because complications from surgery usually manifest early.
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