Last Thursday, Isabella Scandurra, Christiane Grünloh and I ran the workshop “Identifying the Need of Self-reported Data and Self-measurements for Diagnosis and Treatment of Cancer” at the Medical Informatics Europe (MIE) conference in Gothenburg. I introduced the workshop in this blog post some weeks ago. The workshop was held in the time slot 8:30-10:00 in parallel with other workshops and sessions at Vitalis and MIE. This is probably one of the reasons why we unfortunately only had five participants aside from ourselves. But nevertheless the discussions in the small group were very interesting and the outcome can surely be used to develop scenarios of how we want to utilize e.g. self-tracking data from patients for diagnoses and treatment of cancer in the future.
Christiane started by presenting the schedule and introducing the general idea with the workshop – to develop future scenarios related to usage of self-reported and already existing data in cancer treatment, informed by real-life critical incidents. Before we started the group discussion two critical incidents were presented – one by Isabella and one by me. I really think it was great that we could use personal scenarios instead of just using another person’s story.
The picture above is from Isabella’s presentation of her critical incident, related to medication and side effects. During a recent chemotherapy treatment, she constructed her own charts with data about medication (type, time, amount, etc.) – data that is not accessible to anyone else. This data could potentially be very useful for other patients getting similar treatments and would probably also enable e.g. better follow-ups by healthcare professionals. It’s also quite common today, that patients take notes on e.g. side effects of medications, but there is really no good way of transferring this information to other stakeholder. Thus, Isabella’s critical incident related to possible use of data which is currently not accessible to key healthcare stakeholders.
My critical incident, on the other hand, related to lack of access to lab results. In some earlier blog posts, I have written about my autoimmune disease and the immunosuppressive medication I take. The problem with a low immune system (in my case induced by the medication) is that you don’t realize the problem until you get some kind of virus or, even worse, bacteria infection. The critical incident I presented focused on a scenario where my physician called me the day before I should travel to a conference and told me that my immune system was very weak (=I couldn’t travel anywhere). Since I felt perfectly fine and was more than ready to leave, I cannot help wondering what might have happened if I had missed that call… You can read more about this incident here and I will soon write another post about the opposite scenario – about when online access to my medical record definitely saved the day (and probably the month)!
After the critical incident presentations, I shortly introduced how we wanted to work with scenarios and after that we started the discussions based on the presented critical incidents as well as the other participants’ personal experiences. Since we were so few, we did not derive any actual scenarios, but rather discussed what type of data that is currently underused and how we should collect and work with that data. Several important points were brought up during the discussion, which focused a lot on the type of critical incidents that Isabella had presented. One key theme in the discussion was that we need to make much better use of information which is collected and written down manually by patients. This type of data is not collected today and this is a problem, both when it comes to treatment efficiency and research. One idea was to provide a platform to enable the patient to add this information digitally and another to let the patient submit information through voice input. In both these cases we most probably have legal issues to deal with and we also have the usual challenge with unstructured and anecdotal data. Towards the end of the discussions, I think we ended up with an idea that could actually work and that could contribute to a more efficient cancer treatment! I definitely think we should discuss the possibility of basing a Vinnova application on it.
Before we closed the session, Christiane also told everyone about our upcoming workshop at Uppsala Health Summit. Several of the participants seemed interested in it, so I hope we will meet at least some of them at the summit later on in June!