Lifespan Cancer Institute to help establish national research center

October 9, 2018

Study will examine effectiveness of asking patients to electronically submit symptoms following surgery, treatment


Don Dizon, MD

The National Cancer Institute with the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot Initiative has announced that the Lifespan Cancer Institute (LCI) will be among six cancer programs nationally participating in a program to study whether having patients electronically report their symptoms can decrease hospitalizations following surgery or chemotherapy. LCI’s participation in this study will be led by Don Dizon, MD, director of medical oncology at Rhode Island Hospital.

Also participating in the SIMPRO Research Center will be the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, Baptist Memorial Medical Center, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, West Virginia University Cancer Institute and Maine Medical Center.

The project will create a reporting and management system within Epic, the comprehensive health record used by the consortium members and many health systems around the country. Patients’ smart devices will enable a secure connection to their cancer care team via the electronic health record system – called LifeChart at Lifespan facilities – and facilitate symptom tracking following procedures and treatments.

The study will test whether monitoring the symptoms patients experience and providing coaching on how to manage them can decrease the need for hospitalizations and emergency room visits.

“Patient-reported outcomes have been shown to help providers and patients connect outside of the usual clinical visit. Compared to usual clinical visits, one study showed that allowing patients living with metastatic cancer to use a platform to report symptoms electronically not only lead to lower rates of emergency room visits and other health care costs, but also helped patients survive longer,” said Dr. Dizon, who is director of women's cancers for LCI.

“The initial project will aim to help patients undergoing cancer surgery report their symptoms in real time and to see if we can help them recover safely and reduce costs associated with issues requiring readmission to the hospital.”

After development and pilot testing, the system will be fully integrated into Epic at each participating center, allowing for direct communication and real-time updates for clinicians who will have access to a dashboard of patients’ symptoms to prioritize outreach efforts and coaching.

“Post-operative symptom management is an underutilized strategy for improving surgical care.  This work will help us understand how surgeons should implement electronic patient-reported outcomes especially for patients who travel great distances for their operations,” said Sandra Wong, MD, chief of surgery at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and a co-principal investigator on the project.

The program will be led nationally by Wong and fellow principal investigators, Drs. Debra Schrag from Dana Farber//Brigham & Women’s Cancer Center and Raymond Osarogiagbon from Baptist Memorial.

For more detailed information about this project, visit the SIMPRO Research Center website.

Richard Salit

The Miriam Hospital
401-793-7484
richard.salit@lifespan.org