Thursday, February 20, 2014

Conference on mHealth and cancer care

Even if there is no univocal definition of mobile health (or mhealth), the most common and diffused definition is the one of WHO, which defines mhealth as “medical and public health practice supported by mobile devices, such as mobile phones, patient monitoring devices, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and other wireless devices” (WHO Global Observatory for eHealth, 2011). 

By allowing remote monitoring, mhealth encourages elderly and ill citizens to live at home rather than in a nursing home or hospital, improving their quality of life. It enhances collaboration and information sharing among clinicians, who have better communication with patients and are better informed of their conditions. 

Moreover mhealth increases timely detection and faster treatment of severe symptoms, avoiding complications and preventing readmissions. This is particularly relevant in cancer supportive care, which aims at relieving and improving the quality of life of the patients and their carers by serving as a bridge between the standard biomedical approach to medical care and the non-medical aspects of a patient’s healing, their families and their caregivers. 

Cancer supportive care tries to ensure that patient’s needs are addressed by making sure that the patient’s pain and other physical symptoms are managed. Supportive care should also aim at providing accurate information for helping patients and their carers understand the side effects of chemotherapy and giving patients and their family the opportunity to participate in the decision making of the pathway of care. 

The conference will cover the following areas: international experiences of mobile health in cancer supportive care; the potential of mobile health for improving the quality and safety of patient care, the experience of the patient and of the family; the implications for national policy and practice.