mHealth’s potential for cancer patients




Mam przyjemność uczestniczyć w wydarzeniu Unleashing mHealth’s potential for cancer patients, zorganizowanym z inicjatywy #mHealth. Debata dotycząca monitorowania i samoopieki, dwóch podstawowych aspektów, zwiększających jakość życia pacjentów z chorobą nowotworową. 

mHealth i e-zdrowie stają się rzeczywistością w Europie: rynek dla aplikacji mHealth stale się powiększa, inwestycje w infrastrukturę e-zdrowia rosną. Narzędzia są wykorzystywane przez lekarzy i pacjentów chorych na raka.

W przypadku opieki zdrowotnej, następne pięć lat będą miały decydujące znaczenie w łączeniu danych generowanych przez te technologie z danymi z tradycyjnych systemów oraz zintegrowanie tych informacji płynnie w codziennej praktyce lekarskiej. 

– To survive in a New Health Economy that is demanding technologies to support measurable, value-driven care, healthcare companies should help physicians and other caregivers make effective use of digital tools to bridge the gap of time and distance between themselves and consumers.

– For healthcare, the next five years will be critical in linking data generated by these technologies with data from traditional systems and integrating that information seamlessly into clinicians’ everyday practice. Companies that have strategies that combine the right incentives, people, workflows, and data will emerge as leaders.

– Driven by the thriving ecosystem, estimates suggest that the mHealth market will account for nearly $18 Billion in 2016 alone. (Advancing the mhealth ecosystem, report by Naunce, April 2016)

– Successful reorganisation of care delivery should adopt a transparent bottom-up approach to build trust and synergies between the different stakeholders. It also includes ICT applications to enable lean processes and new organisational methods. The reorganisation of healthcare delivery models and systems cannot materialise without the involvement of governments, providers, patients, insurers and health professionals

– There is no one-size-fits-all solution: rather than wait for the one magic formula or solution, governments and policy makers should actively encourage and support innovative initiatives, reward excellence and achievement, and scale up successful projects

– The so called market demand at this area will be stimulated by the innovative technologies, better understanding of the problems, health digital literacy, and good regulatory and non-regulatory framework. But, there is the special, additional aspect connected to the growth in demand. This demand directed to the new model of healthcare area is not coming from medical professionals, from politicians and institutions. It is coming from technology companies and, most importantly, from patients, from consumers, from app users, from the new lifestyle.

– There are some facts and figures as examples. The numbers of people who use mobile health apps will double every two years. In 2013 there were only 16% of people using these applications – in 2015: 32%! Similarly, the number of people with a smartphone who will download health apps is believed to reach 50% by 2017. As of today, 49% of patients are willing to use wearables for health reasons. 84% of the total revenue in the mobile health market will come from related services and products, such as sensors. Only 9% of the total revenue will come, in coming years, from downloading apps. It shows: those investments in innovation are the key condition. 83% of the population is willing to provide their medical data if used for research and to improve their health condition.

– Therefore we need the new framework, as legal as non-legal. It should not be overregulated. It should rather be focused on establishing the flexible background for catching with technological developments by the legislation. In that sense, legislation means – fulfilling the rules and standard requirements

– We need to ensure by the new technological achievements in the healthcare area all standards – via proper certifications approved by legitimate authorities, adequate procedures present in codes of conducts, not always in ‚strong legislation’: EU directives or regulations or national laws. There are some experiences in that way of proceeding, due to the directive related to the adjustment of the new medical devices to the required standards. We need the flexible principle for the legislation – as less as possible and as strong as it is really necessary;

To summarise:

– To survive in a New Health Economy that is demanding technologies to support measurable, value-driven care, healthcare companies should help physicians and other caregivers make effective use of digital tools to bridge the gap of time and distance between themselves and consumers.

– For healthcare, the next five years will be critical in linking data generated by these technologies with data from traditional systems and integrating that information seamlessly into clinicians’ everyday practice. Companies that have strategies that combine the right incentives, people, workflows, and data will emerge as leaders.

– The initiatives planned under our Digital Single Market strategy will help to solve many of these issues. Coordinating digital standards across sectors is one of its main objectives, for example. We are also considering other ways to move forward; we have already started paving the way for an industry-led code of conduct for mHealth apps to ensure that the data they collect is secure and that personal data is protected;

Example of implementation (Creating a Gigabit Society report, may 2016)

– Sweden is a frontrunner in Digital Health, building on strong ICT infrastructure and a history of tracking population healthcare information) and is becoming an innovation hub for the healthcare and ICT industry;

– It is the 2nd most prolific tech hub in the world, behind Silicon Valley, producing one 6.3bn dollar company per million inhabitants. Due to high market readiness and the most mature market conditions for Digital Health, many start-ups in this area have been launched in Sweden.

Mhealth in cancer treatment

– Cancer is now recognized as one of the four leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, and incidence is expected to rise significantly in the next two decades. More than 10 million EU citizens are affected by cancer, incidence and prevalence are growing;

– Telemedicine and international collaboration are also promising ways to effect change and improve global oncological care;

– mHealth has great potential for linking patients, caregivers, and health care professionals; for enabling early detection and intervention; for lowering costs; and achieving better quality of life. Given its great potential, it is important to evaluate the performance of mHealth;

– Cancer treatment is a very complex and painful process demanding the highest level of accuracy from both physician and patient. And it is also an area where mobile technology can assist with treatment. Regular smartphones can be converted into effective medication schedule managers.

– This involves a straightforward process; simply select your the prescribed treatment plan, uploaded to the system by your doctor through a server side interface, point to a start date and make sure your device is always in close proximity in order to see/hear reminders and notifications. Either patient or caregiver may add additional days and times for further dosage if required.

– The software also enables a user to mark each intake as “done” after receiving medication. This allows a user to share intake reports with their doctor at a later date either via e-mail or during personal meetings.

– The tracking symptoms log included in medical application for cancer treatment support is very important. Symptoms such as nausea, pain, fever, fatigue, lack of appetite, and any others that a user may wish to track, can be logged and showed to a doctor during a meeting or sent via e-mail. For more convenient use, symptoms history can be displayed in tabular or diagrammatic form. There is also an option to compare symptoms logs over certain user-defined periods of time; e.g. for this month and last month.

– Tracking blood count as example: Some cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, may damage not only cancerous cells but also normal body cells including blood cells. This means that tracking blood count and comparing both current and old results is important for planning appropriate treatment. Within a medical mobile app, users may have the option to add blood count data and take pictures of blood inspection results. Data can be made available in both text and tabular format, and again the option is made available to compare old and current results.

Social aspect: It’s easier to cope with a problem when you know that you are not alone. Access to a community, the ability to ask questions, the opportunity to read success stories, and be able to participate in a community information exchange is extremely important in a cancer sufferer’s battle to stay positive. Thus, this module is a very valuable addition to a companion app for people struggling with any serious long-term disease.