Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre Launches Digital Patient Guidance through the Cancer Care Journey

Remote Patient Monitoring provides an end-to-end virtual companion for patients through chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy, and survivorship.

Patients undergoing cancer surgery, systemic therapy, radiation and survivorship are now supported with digital patient engagement technology

Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC) and Regional Cancer Care Northwest is now virtually supporting oncology patients through their cancer care journey through a remote patient monitoring app.

Our Digital Patient Engagement platform keeping patients in Northwestern Ontario engaged in their care, educated and connected safely while at home – particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic. This initiative is supported by the Government of Ontario, which has approved one-time funding to implement, enhance, and scale virtual care supported models to support integrated care delivery. This funding is intended to increase access to care for patients by way of key virtual programs and services, transforming how care is delivered, during and after the pandemic.

Remote Patient Monitoring provides an end-to-end virtual companion for patients through chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy, and survivorship. In addition to the previously live 10 surgical and procedural programs (hip, knee, shoulder, spine, bariatrics, colorectal, breast cancer, TURP, HoLEP, kidney stones) at TBRHSC, the digital patient engagement platform will be expanded to support oncology-specific programs (breast, lung, head and neck, colon, prostate and gynecologic cancer).  This will assist with system increase patient throughput by reducing readmissions, average patient length of stay, and certain follow-up visits.

“This technology has been an invaluable in providing the health care team with the ability to engage monitor and stay connected with our patients navigating their care. We are excited to now roll out the technology to support our cancer care programs,” said Caroline Fanti, Director, Regional Surgical Services at TBRHSC. “Our remote patient monitoring app is a user-friendly platform that enhances the oncology patient experience by reducing anxiety, inspiring confidence and allowing the care team to effectively monitor our patients, provide better patient navigation, and reduce phone calls that require intervention from a nurse.”

TBRHSC collaborated with the vendor to customize cancer care protocols and content on the platform so patients now receive:

  • Virtual check-ins post-surgery and therapy (e.g. chemotherapy, radiation) to identify medical concerns, track medication intake and monitor treatment side effects to help catch complications sooner, improving overall patient outcomes;
  • Interactive guidance through reminders, daily tasks and evidence-based education on pre- and post-cancer surgery instructions, chemotherapy, medication compliance tracking, treatment planning (e.g. tattoos, body molds), radiation therapy side effects, diet recommendations and post-treatment monitoring;
  • Patient-Reported Outcome (PRO) surveys to track Quality of Life assessments, and Symptoms and Adverse Events (AE) Tracking so both patients and providers know the progress throughout the journey; and
  • Automated self-management recommendations based on patient self-reported symptoms, with personalized self-care education.

“We are excited to continue innovating our oncology program to provide safer patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” said Andrea Docherty, Program Director for Regional Cancer Care Northwest. “Remote Patient Monitoring provides an exceptional resource that helps our patients stay on track with their care and allows us to monitor symptoms and side effects of oncology treatment; in addition, providing important, timely engagement for patients across their entire cancer journey.”

To date, over 1,500 patients have already enrolled onto the app at TBRHSC, with 98% recommending the program to others, 94% saying the program helped them feel more confident before surgery, and 96% saying the program helped them feel less worried while recovering at home after surgery.

One surgical patient who has used the program at TBRHSC stated: “I like the fact that the patient is able to speak up about pains or other complaints and someone on the other end will call back and explain if my problems are normal or I should go to emergency. It makes me feel less alone while recuperating from the operation, knowing someone is listening.”