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Drug Telemonitoring in Oncology Research

With the rise in availability and use of oral cancer drugs, concern about compliance is an increasingly important issue in oncology. A review of compliance published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that up to 80 per cent of cancer patients failed to follow their prescriptions (1). Many cancer centres do not have a system to track patient compliance, and the risk to patients is substantial. Patients who receive too much chemotherapy risk a toxic reaction or long-term damage, whereas those who receive too little lose the therapeutic benefits of the drug.

Emerging mobile phone-based telemonitoring technology has the potential to enhance medication compliance in oncology and clinical trials, while providing data in support of performance and pharmacodiligence. Solutions have recently been introduced that integrate mobile phones, radio frequency identification (RFID), and health and behavioural informatics to optimise medication compliance, track medication use, and extend patient care to the ambulatory setting.

Such technology can be thought of as a ‘smart service’ that uses the inherent abilities of wireless technologies such as mobile phones and RFID. It allows clinicians to take action based upon hard data: field intelligence. In this case, medication data read from a smart label (a label with an RFID inlay) on the medication package is collected wirelessly by the phone in real-time, and helps to verify that patients are taking the right drug at the right time, while monitoring adverse events. A web service makes the data readily available to clinicians. Alerts to various stakeholders can be triggered, enabling intervention in the case of missed medications or adverse events before they become a significant health risk. A mobile phone use case scenario is shown in Figure 1.

 


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Barbara Rapchak is the founder of Leap of Faith Technologies, an e-health company that integrates existing and emerging technologies, content and strategies for delivery to improve patient compliance and healthcare outcomes. She has spent 20 years as a technology and business executive, leading small and mid-sized organisations through startup and growth. She is the inventor of a patented telehealth device that was selected as one of the ‘World’s Best Technologies’, and a paediatric oncology product that received the ‘World Wide Web Health Award’.
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Barbara Rapchak
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