eHealth applications for cancer post-op need provider input, simpler navigation

Including eHealth apps in cancer treatment and post-op care can be valuable--but more insight and research is needed when it comes to weaving eHealth tools into supportive care, according to a study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR).

"Previous studies have shown that patient-reported outcomes (PROs) could be a solution to meet cancer survivors' needs, for example through an eHealth application that monitors quality of life and provides personalized advice and supportive care options," writes corresponding author Sanne Duman-Lubberding, who works in the Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam.

But developing an effective eHealth app requires including healthcare professionals in the creation process, Duman-Lubberding and her colleagues note.

The research results echo provider feedback regarding the need to include caregivers and providers in mHealth app and device development. Pau Cooper, R.N., believes that clinicians must embrace such apps in order to help train and educate patients on the use of mobile health tools, and that physicians and caregivers must use the devices themselves to best understand how they work. 

Duman-Lubberding's study focused on healthcare professionals' views about eHealth apps in follow-up care for head and neck cancer patients. It also examined the tools' value in generating tailored feedback and providing customized personal advice to patients in the supportive care environment. The prototype app developed, called OncoKompas, was viewed as useful and beneficial but app navigation was complex, the authors say.

Mobile health tool use, especially for older, chronically ill patients, is not always a walk in the park. A previous paper published in JMIR found that patients often view tracking healthcare as hard work.

For more information:
- read the JMIR paper