When Nicole Hudson learned that Remote Patient Monitoring gives patients increased access to health care from their home – and helps them take control of their own therapy – she was immediately interested in piloting it for cancer patients.
“I got very excited about the possibilities for improved care and empowerment of our immunotherapy patient population in Kelowna,” said Nicole, a clinical trials nurse coordinator at BC Cancer.
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) is a model of virtual care that is generally used for patients with chronic illness. It uses biometric reading devices, online technology and questionnaires to monitor a patient’s health status and vital signs, all from the comfort of their home.
“I realized I could use RPM to build a robust monitoring plan to catch early symptoms of immune-related adverse events (such as side effects of immunotherapy medications), and add options to intensify monitoring when one of these events occurred.”
With those objectives in mind, BC Cancer – Kelowna and PHSA’s Office of Virtual Health initiated a pilot project to understand how RPM could be used to effectively monitor, educate, empower and care for patients receiving immunotherapy – a type of cancer treatment that helps a person’s immune system fight cancer.
The pilot ran from June 2021 to June 2022, with the report finalized in fall 2022.
Patients participating in the pilot were given biometric reading devices to provide pulse and temperature information twice weekly.
Patients were also given tablets and received questionnaires on the tablets. If a questionnaire answer or reading fell outside the normal range, an alert was automatically generated in the RPM platform. The monitoring nurse would then call the patient to verify the issue and either provide advice directly or consult the patient’s medical oncologist and provide advice afterward.
Nicole expanded the RPM plan to include patient education links and the ability to request referrals to support services. “I added a brief monthly psychosocial assessment to increase support for these patients,” adds Nicole. Patients reported:
- RPM devices were easy to use
- Being empowered to self-manage their care
- Improved access to health care
- High satisfaction with the RPM program
- RPM enabled earlier intervention of side effects
- Improved care coordination with the patients
- Reduced hospitalizations and emergency room visits
- RPM’s effect on productivity was unclear
“As one of the monitoring nurses for the project, it was great to see how patients could benefit from a program like this,” said Stephanie Townsend, staff nurse cancer care, BC Cancer. “RPM allowed us to detect changes in a patient’s condition early and easily track changes over time. It enabled timely intervention and improved patient access to care.”
Learn more about the results of the pilot RPM project at BC Cancer – Kelowna, read the RPM evaluation executive summary
(PDF) on the BC Cancer Research Centre website.
The summary provides detailed information on the project background, evaluation, recommendations, feedback and conclusion.
Hear firsthand from Matt, a patient on Vancouver Island who used RPM in a pilot with BC Cancer-Victoria and felt empowered in his health care