Remotely monitored “wearable” devices are helping to pave the way for evidence-based therapy and to facilitate personalized healthcare through predictive health analytics and medicine. The technologies are already having a significant impact, but they have the potential to be game-changers for cancer. However, a number of data-related hurdles need to be overcome in order to facilitate widespread adoption of remotely monitored clinical devices in cancer treatment.
A new table created by Sam Hanna, director of the HealthInformatics@GW program, and Mohsin Khan, a systems biologist, details the health administration and informatics data and policies that are needed to support the use of devices such as wearables for both cancer treatment and the use of such devices in clinical trials. Up until very recently, Khan worked on systems immunoproteomics strategies to understand septic shock under the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-University of Maryland Graduate Partnership Program (NIH-UM GPP).
Wearable technologies allow real-time data generation, collection, and evaluation of health conditions linked to cancer. A study published this spring in the Journal of Clinical Oncology: Clinical Cancer Informatics showed that the devices could be useful in the treatment of breast, lung and gastrointestinal cancers. This and other research suggests that wearables have the potential to impact the 1.7 million people who are estimated to be diagnosed with cancer this year. It is unclear if remotely monitored devices could reduce the mortality of the 609,640 people who are predicted to die from cancer this year, but they may help in future years. These devices may also help the estimated 15.5 million Americans who are cancer survivors (2016 figures).
“The devices have the potential to enable people undergoing cancer treatment and cancer survivors to spend less time in the hospital. As long as this can be done safely, that is likely to appeal to nearly all cancer patients,” Hanna says. He stresses that the devices are also important because the U.S. is spending around $3.3 trillion—about 18 percent of the country’s total gross domestic product—on healthcare annually. In 2017, the hospital-associated cost of caring for cancer patients was approximately $147.3 billion. Globally, this year alone, remotely monitored devices and systems are expected to save an estimated $36 billion in hospital-related expenses.
Clinical oncology has already begun to adopt wearables and other remotely monitored devices because it is clear that the field can benefit greatly from the real-time data that the devices deliver, Hanna says. “It may not be possible to incorporate remotely monitored wearable devices into the large number of clinical studies currently underway for various cancers. But they may be helpful with various FDA-approved anticancer therapies that are already available across the U.S.” he says. “Given that oncology trials involve comparatively complex designs, take a long time to carry out, and involve high levels of cancer-related mortality and morbidity, we can’t get moving on setting the stage for the use of remote technologies in cancer treatment soon enough.”
With real-time data, clinicians can be better informed about cancer patients’ health, Hanna explains. This can facilitate their ability to design and adjust a treatment course, plan future consultations, and predict treatment related complications or emergencies.
The table below details certain needs and challenges related to the data being captured and tracked by remotely monitored technologies and devices that require further efforts before widespread adoption of remotely monitored clinical devices is possible for cancer treatment.