Computer-inexperienced Patients See Greater Benefit

The study also found that patients who did not have regular access to a computer and e-mail prior to enrollment benefitted more from using the remote monitoring system than computer-literate patients.

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“This was a really interesting observation,” said Dr Basch. “My thought is that people who had less computer experience in general also had lower health literacy and were less adept at navigating the health system. I think for these kinds of patients, having a more systematic approach is more beneficial.”

He suggested that patients with less computer experience may have had less sophisticated overall communication skills as well. “By providing them with a communication tool, we may actually be able to improve their ability to communicate with providers,” he said.

Dr Basch said he thinks that the remote monitoring system can help improve patient navigation. “I wouldn’t say that it substitutes for formal navigation, which really helps people to address the challenges of the health care system,” he said. “But I think that a part of navigation is communication, and from that perspective this is a very effective tool.”

Dr Basch said he thinks this kind of remote self-reporting will soon become more broadly used. “This is an approach that is of great interest to multiple organizations,” he said.

“In related studies that we’ve published, we have found that almost universally, people have stated that they feel involved in their own care. The vast majority said they would recommend it to others and would like to continue using the system even when the study was over. Those are really striking findings.”

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Dr Basch’s group is planning a national study to follow up on this study’s findings, and is also working with the American Society of Clinical Oncology to develop patient-reported symptom quality metrics.


  1. Basch E, Deal AM, Kris MG, et al. Symptom monitoring with patient-reported outcomes during routine cancer treatment: a randomized controlled trial [published online ahead of print December 7, 2015]. J Clin Oncol. doi 10.1200/JCO.2015.63.0830.