Background: Novel mobile phone technology linked to a server that communicates patients' symptoms to healthcare professionals has been adapted to register the side- effects of chemotherapy and provide advice on management of toxicity. We report a feasibility study to examine the utility of home monitoring of patients' symptoms via a mobile phone.
Methods: Six colon cancer patients receiving adjuvant chemotherapy, entered symptom data onto user friendly screens on a mobile phone twice daily. This 'real time' self assessment of nausea, vomiting, mucositis, diarrhoea and hand-foot syndrome and measurement of temperature was sent via a secured connection to a remote computer. In the event of moderate or severe symptoms (generating amber and red alerts respectively), the nurse was immediately alerted by the computer, via a pager. The nurse then contacted the patient to reinforce the automatic advice sent to the patient on their phone and to assess the patient using clinical algorithms.
Results: The patient used the mobile phones during the first two cycles of chemotherapy. The data were successfully analysed by the server software and alerts were generated alerting the study nurses to patients' symptoms at the appropriate time. There were 91 alerts-54 red and 37 amber; 54% (29/54) of the red alerts were data delay and transmission problems which were swiftly rectified. The remaining red alerts were managed appropriately by the study nurses. Both patients and staff felt confident in this approach to symptom management.
Conclusions: This study demonstrates that the technology for monitoring patients' symptoms worked well. The patients felt secure in the knowledge that their symptoms were being closely monitored and that they were participating effectively in their own care management.