When cancer patients are given the choice, they are significantly more likely to use Web-based technology to answer questions about their quality of life six months after treatment, compared to a paper survey, according to a unique study being presented at a scientific session, October 5, 2011, at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).
This finding challenges the perception that older cancer patients do not have access to or are not comfortable using Web-based Technology. Investigators found that a significant proportion of cancer patients averaging 64 years of age who participated in the study were computer-savvy and preferred using a keyboard to a pen or pencil to fill out a questionnaire.
"This Web-based survey is more convenient and less time-consuming for patients. It provides doctors with the data we need to share with our patients so they can make treatment choices that take into account quality of life issues."
Data related to quality of life issues is extremely important for patients with cancer; however, it has been challenging for doctors to receive consistent data about their patients' quality of life after treatment though the use of paper questionnaires.
The prospective study is part of a larger Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) randomized trial for early-stage prostate cancer patients that included a quality of life questionnaire. Findings showed that while 90 percent of patients completed the paper survey at the end of the treatment, only 52 percent of patients did so six months after treatment. The most common reason cited for noncompliance was "institutional error."
Researchers wanted to find new approach to increase participation in its quality of life questionnaire. The goal of the companion study was to determine if the compliance rate could increases from 52 to 75 percent using a web-based system. Investigators used a HIPAA-secure Web-based technology, called VisionTree Optimal Care™ (VTOC) (See: VTOC Oncology), that can be accessed from any computer and offers email reminders to further increase compliance rates.
From September 2008 to December 2009, 49 prostate cancer patients who had an email address were involved in the study. Researchers found that the survey compliance rate six months after treatment increased from 52 to 90 percent (15 percent higher than their goal) when the VTOC technology was offered to patients.
The VTOC technology almost eliminated institutional error as a reason from noncompliance, since the Web-based system sent automatic email reminders to patients to encourage survey completion. A survey of research associates found that the system saved them an average of 10 minutes per quality of life form.
"We plan to use this new Web-based technology in studies for other cancer types, so we can better understand and ultimately improve the quality of life of additional cancer patients."
Movsas said, "We plan to use this new Web-based technology in studies for other cancer types, so we can better understand and ultimately improve the quality of life of additional cancer patients."
The abstract, "Electronic Web-based Technology Significantly Improves Quality of Life (QOL) Data Collection: Analysis of RTOG 0828." will be presented at a scientific session at 10:45 a.m. On Wednesday, October 5, 2011. To speak to the lead author of the study, Benjamin Movsas, MD, please call Beth Bukata or Nicole Napoli, October 2-4, 2011, in the ASTRO Press Room at the Miami Beach Convention Center at 786-276-4506 or 786-276-4507. You may also email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
VisionTree Software, Inc., a Brainlab company, is a leader in cloud-based, patient-centered health electronic medical records, communication and population health data management systems. The VisionTree Optimal Care (VTOC) outcomes platform is MACRA compliant as a modular EHR and implemented at over 600 sites with 2.5M+ patient records in 15+ languages.
The VTOC platform is used for multi-center research, registries and population health initiatives across multiple domains. VisionTree's customer base consists of leading academic and community centers, research organizations and medical societies globally including 17 of the top 20 U.S. News and World Report hospitals.