*Martin Östlund, Clara Axelsson, Pauline Johansson, Stefan Johnsson, Magnus Lagerlund, Ingela Widell, Camilla Wilde Björling
eHealth Institute, Linnaeus University, Sweden; Kalmar County Hospital, Sweden
Oral Presentation – Research Track
Sunday, Sept 30, 2012: 10:40 AM – 11:00 AM – LK120

*Presenting Speaker

(Research in progress)

Background
Efficient information dispersal and effective communication are key issues in increasing quality of care for patients undergoing radiation therapy. Radiation therapy consists of daily treatment sessions every weekday for 4-6 weeks. Although this means that patients are in daily contact with nursing staff, there is little time at these quick in-and-out sessions to address any substantive issues beyond the mechanics of the actual treatment procedure. Our aim is to explore the potential usefulness of computer tablets as an enabling device for making patient-staff information interchange more accessible and efficient. We are especially interested in investigating the empowerment effects that we believe will follow when making it easier for patients to influence the course of their treatment.

Methods
From april to june 2012 all breast cancer patients scheduled for adjuvant radiation therapy treatment at the county hospital in Kalmar (Sweden) will be offered the opportunity to borrow a tablet computer during the course of their treatment. The tablet offers secure access to a web site containing illness-, treatment- and clinic-specific information, including a number of videos demonstrating the treatment procedure; a secure discussion forum in which patients can ask questions to staff; and a set of automatically processed surveys that provide staff with instant feedback from patients. Post-treatment interviews will be conducted with participating patients as well as with the staff on their respective experience of using the tablets. Patients will also fill out a survey and user logs from the web site will be analyzed to determine usage patterns.

Results
At the time of writing we have started off the first couple of patients. Initial reactions are positive from both patients and staff. At the the time of the conference we will have evaluated the first set of patients and be able to present the results of this. We expect to see patients that are more confident and less anxious by being better prepared for their treatment both factually and emotionally. For the medical staff, we expect to see that the instant feedback provided by patients, via the questions they ask and the survey answers they submit, will allow staff to react more swiftly and more accurately to meet the patients’ needs and wants, and in so doing provide both better medical care and better emotional support.

ConclusionsComputer tablets offer an efficient and accessible way for patients to inform themselves and to communicate with staff. The instant feedback from patients provides staff with the input they need to provide the best possible care, both medically and in providing emotional support. The sense of control, and actual control, over the course of their treatment that this will bring to patients, we believe will lead to a sense of empowerment that will help them better deal with the emotionally taxing experience it is to undergo treatment for a life-threatening condition.