On Friday, 5th July 2019, the eSMART (Electronic Symptom Management System Remote Technology) consortium held the final conference and presented its preliminary results at the Renaissance Hotel, in Brussels, Belgium. The conference was led by Kathi Apostoidis, President of Consortium-Member, European Cancer Patients Coalition (ECPS). Almost every hospital and research facility involved in the project had at least one representative taking part in the conference to share their finding, empirical data and challenges.
The eSMART project is a pioneering research project, funded by the European Commission and coordinated by the University of Strathclyde Glasgow, which involves more than ten research institutes, technology companies and health care providers in both medical research and information science fields across Europe and North America. The project focuses on tracking cancer patients’ chemotherapy treatment process via a real-time mobile phone-based remote monitoring system named the Advanced Symptom Management System (ASyMS), which aims to personalised cancer care, improving the healthcare quality and reducing costs.
Over 800 patients with breast, colorectal, and hematological cancers which registered in 12 hospitals in Greece, the UK, Ireland, Austria and Norway have participated in this research. The report showed the eSMART had a positive result in reducing symptoms of chemotherapy; moreover, both the clinical and economic benefits created by the eSMART project were also successfully evaluated by participants. According to the research, more than three million patients are diagnosed with cancer in Europe each year and the number will reach five million within the next two decades; therefore, with the role of technology becoming more and more prominent in our society, it is crucial to understand how to employ technology to benefit patients. With trained nurses and specialists able to use ASyMS, patients could enjoy the comfort of their own homes without further costly hospitalisation in the future.
The cultural diversity of the research team left a deep impression in the audience, and consortium members also recognised the differences between regions. Some of them mentioned how the form in which quantitative data are collected in different countries was one of the main challenges of the project, along with data collection, analysis, and costs. As Dr. Nora Kearney, University of Surrey, UK commented in the closing speech: “this final conference is just the beginning, and plenty of opportunities and challenges on eSMART and digital health are waiting for us in the future”.