Telehealth helps ease pain in cancer sufferers

Friday, October 15 2010

A recent study has revealed some encouraging benefits associated with telehealth care, or care administered via video conferencing equipment, for patients suffering from some types of cancer.

According to a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, regular phone calls and video conferencing check-ups from medical practitioners, along with automated symptom monitoring of patients, helped reduce pain and depression in cancer patients. Of the study's 405 participants, 137 patients showed improvement in pain severity and 154 showed improvement in the degree of their depression, thanks to video conferencing visits with their doctors and nurses.

"Because oncologists are busy with testing, chemotherapy and other treatments, they often have too little time left for quality of life issues, like pain and depression," said Dr. Kurt Kroenke, a professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine. "We felt one solution might be a partnership between a telephone-based symptom management team and community-based oncology practices."

Telehealth has other benefits as well, even for those who are not ill. Video conferencing technology allows doctors to consult with patients who may be hundreds of miles away from the nearest hospital or may be unable to come into a clinic for various medical, psychological or geographic reasons.