Center for Connected Health to study SMS for managing cancer pain

By Neil Versel

Joseph Kvedar, The Center for Connected HealthFor the second year in a row, the Center for Connected Health at Partners HealthCare in Boston has received a McKesson Foundation research grant to develop and study a text messaging system that will help patients with a specific condition. This time, the unspecified grant will support SMS and voice response technology for managing pain associated with cancer treatment in hopes of reducing hospitalizations and improving outcomes.

"We believe this will be the first-of-its-kind mobile health program to support pain management for cancer patients, incorporating evidence-based interventions with a scalable mobile platform," Center for Connected Health Director Dr. Joseph Kvedar tells Healthcare IT News.

Harvard-affiliated researchers will study 122 adults with lung cancer and moderate to severe pain for four months. Half will be asked to assess and report their cancer-related pain via text messaging or interactive voice response and will receive feedback on how to manage symptoms, based on clinical guidelines from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. A control group will only get standard treatment as the Center for Connected Health test the impact of mobile interventions on the daily life of cancer patients.

"There is increasing evidence for the use of interactive voice response technologies in mobile health interventions because it is low cost, convenient, reliable and effective for symptom and treatment monitoring in chronic disease management," principal investigator Dr. Kamal Jethwani, corporate manager for research and innovation at the Center for Connected Health, says.

The McKesson Foundation is funding the research through its Mobilizing for Health program. A year ago, the program awarded a grant to the Center for Connected Health to integrate text messaging into a diabetes self-management program serving low-income populations.