The emerging role of digital health in monitoring and supporting people living with cancer and the consequences of its treatments

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Abstract

Purpose of review

As rising numbers of people are living with the long-term impact of cancer, digital health is playing an increasingly important role in the monitoring and support of survivors and their caregivers. This article reviews current evidence, practice and developments, and identifies emerging issues and opportunities.

Recent findings

Digital health innovations, primarily using internet or smartphone-enabled applications, have been successfully developed, particularly in the areas of symptom management, decision-making, survivorship and follow-up care and palliative care. The research is characterized by much developmental activity, and evidence is accruing for efficacy and effectiveness. Opportunities afforded by digital health include timelier and patient-centred evidence-based care, offering improved clinical outcomes and independence. Barriers to implementation include lack of patient and professional engagement, perceived burden, depersonalization and missed care.

Summary

There is much enthusiasm for the role of digital health in monitoring and providing support to cancer survivors, but further research is needed to establish clinical efficacy and understand the mechanisms for successful implementation in practice. The role of wearables, the internet of things and big data analytics is yet to be fully explored in supportive cancer care and may present new opportunities to enhance care and survivor experience.

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