Purpose: The use of digital symptom monitoring with patient-reported outcomes (PROs) has been shown to improve patient outcomes. The evidence of benefit has been largely derived from research studies. The feasibility of adopting this technology in the real-world setting is unknown.
Methods: We report on the clinical implementation of a proprietary electronic patient-reported outcome (ePRO)-based digital symptom monitoring platform at the Highlands Oncology Group practice, a large community oncology practice. We present here our experience with patient enrollment, engagement, and retention; reasons for discontinued use; proportion of reports generating alerts and containing severe symptoms; and the responses to alerts including nursing telephone consultations and urgent office visits.
Results: Over an approximately 17-month period, 923 patients were successfully enrolled. Patients enrolled from June 20, 2020, through November 30, 2021, with follow-up through February 28, 2022. Retention rates at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months were 94%, 88%, 73%, and 67%, respectively, with greater retention at 12 months in patients age 65 years or older. Few patients discontinued use for reasons related to the platform (n = 47; 5%). Of the 25,311 ePRO reports submitted, 49% (n = 12,334) exceeded the predefined alert thresholds and 8% (n = 1,920) included severe symptoms. The nursing team responded within 24 hours by telephone to 31.2% (n = 3,910) of all reports with alerts. Of reports with severe symptoms, 72.7% (n = 1,395) received a call. Only 6.4% (n = 249) of phone calls required an office evaluation within 72 hours of the report.
Conclusion: This single-center experience indicates that an ePRO-based digital symptom monitoring platform can be effectively implemented at a large scale with a high level of long-term patient engagement. Most reports could be effectively resolved by nurses, and physician intervention was infrequently required.