Background: We describe our experience with an electronic oncological patient record (EOPR) for the total management of cancer patients.
Methods: The web-based EOPR was developed on the basis of a user-centred design including user education and training, followed by continuous assistance; user acceptance was monitored by means of three questionnaires administered after 2 weeks, 6 months and 6 years.
Results: The EOPR has been used daily for all in-ward, day hospital and ambulatory clinical activities since July 2000. The most widely appreciated functions are its rapid multipoint access, the self-updated summary of the patients' clinical course, the management of the entire therapeutic programme synchronised with working agendas and oncological teleconsultation. Security and privacy are assured by means of the separate storage of clinical and demographic data, with access protected by login and a password. The questionnaires highlighted appreciation of rapid data retrieval and exchange and the perception of improved quality of care, but also revealed a sense of additional work and a negative impact on doctor-patient relationships.
Conclusions: Our EOPR has proved to be effective in the total management of cancer patients. Its user-centred design and flexible web technology have been key factors in its successful implementation and daily use.