Patient-Reported Outcomes Improve Cancer Treatment
An information technology revolution is improving cancer treatment with the use of Patient-Reported Outcomes (PROs), according to Supportive Oncology Services, Inc. (SOS), a research-based health information company in Memphis, TN. PROs are self-assessments that measure any aspect relating to health status that come directly from the patient without any interpretation by the healthcare team. With its Patient Assessment, Care, and Education System (PACE), Supportive Oncology Services helped pioneer the efficient use of PROs in the community oncology setting where more than 85% of all cancer patients are treated. This information technology, which has been used by over 100 cancer practices throughout the United States since 2001, enables patients to complete a comprehensive physical and psycho-social assessment before each physician visit.
According to SOS Chief Medical Officer, Kurt W. Tauer, MD, "Effective cancer care requires treating more than the tumor; it necessitates taking care of the whole patient, addressing dozens of physical symptoms as well as psychological and social needs that accompany a cancer diagnosis. From dealing with the prospects of a potential death sentence to handling home healthcare needs, cancer patients and their families can quickly become overwhelmed with all that faces them. PROs delivered via the PACE System help physicians alleviate areas of patient discomfort or distress, thus improving quality of life."
The validity of PROs, especially as delivered by the PACE System, continues to receive increasing prominence. Cancer Care for the Whole Patient, recently published by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), discusses the PACE System and its role in patient care, particularly as it pertains to quality of life issues.
"The PACE System was designed to secure scientifically valid, statistically tested PROs for the purpose of improving survival-related patient functioning," said SOS CEO, Steve Coplon. "With its deployment in hundreds of cancer centers covering both the community and academic setting, the IOM recognized its intrinsic value in improving health outcomes."
Additionally, Duke University's Comprehensive Cancer Care Center has adopted the PACE System in research projects across its Oncology Supportive Care department. Duke researchers presented findings at the 2007 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting, demonstrating how the PACE System "offers a valid, feasible method for collecting research- quality, clinically relevant data from patients in outpatient academic oncology." In February 2007, the US Food and Drug Administration released draft guidance for using PROs to support new claims for drug labeling.
Most recently, international researchers (Gotay, et al) published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (J Clin Oncol 26:1355-1363) that PROs better reflect survival-related patient functioning and well-being than traditional prognostic indicators and provide prognostic information beyond standard clinical measures.
"Millions of research-specific PROs garnered via the PACE System have been aggregated from over a hundred thousand cancer patients over a seven year span," according to Coplon. "Via the PACE System, SOS Inc. is an internationally recognized leader in collecting research quality PROs with which we intend to improve the quality of life for cancer patients."