Tablet PCs improve doctor-patient interaction

A three-year study in 30 oncology offices claims tablet PCs actually improve results when they are shared by doctors and patients.

PACE systemA three-year study in 30 oncology clinics claims that tablet PCs actually improve results when they are shared by doctors and patients.

Now some grains of salt. The company managing the study, Thomson Healthcare, is the system vendor. Supportive Oncology Services, which also participated, is the software vendor. The study used the ACORN research network of oncology offices.

But the Journal of Supportive Care of Cancer is of high quality. This is peer-reviewed stuff.  The study also was done with financial support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The study evaluated the Patient Assessment, Care & Education (PACE) system. Patients were handed the system when they came in for chemo, and did a self-assessment of their pain, fatigue, and depression. The results went on a wireless network to physicians, who were given a report for the actual office visit.

The result was that doctors had a much clearer picture of just how badly their patients felt, much better than they were getting with charts they filled-in with patients alongside them. This let them address side-effects more rapidly.

Given my own family's history with cancer I can well understand this result. Many patients will put up a brave front before their doctors, acknowledging their pain only privately or with family.

But this is vital to correct management of the disease. Unreported pain, fatigue or depression can easily lead to too-aggressive treatment and a dead patient.

Sick people don't always tell you the truth. Get the truth out of them and you're in a better position to help them. Get it out of them at a point where it's useful to you -- right before they come in -- and you're in the best position to help them.

I don't care how many vendors worked on this study. It makes sense.

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