New treatments for cancer are helping millions of people diagnosed each year live longer, healthier lives. As research uncovers innovative ways to manage the disease, however, cancer treatment is growing more complex. Patients and their caregivers must navigate a web of treatment options and coordinate with multiple specialists and care centers that may be far from home. Connected health can help these patients and caregivers better manage a cancer diagnosis. It can improve access to resources and streamline care delivery. For example, connected technologies:
Help patients manage cancer symptoms:
Cancer patients often experience symptoms and treatment side effects that can lower their quality of life. To get relief, some patients may stop taking needed medications without first talking with their physicians. Broadband-enabled tools can quickly connect patients with healthcare providers (e.g., through a virtual visit or remote monitoring) who can identify and treat new symptoms, ensuring that patients can continue on effective therapies and maintain quality of life.
Improve the experience for cancer patients and their caregivers:
Connected health tools enable patients to play a more active role in monitoring and managing their healthcare. Patients can use the Internet to access their medical records and share information with caregivers and family members. Patients can use a personal computer or cell phone to access the latest research findings and identify clinical trials. Caregivers can connect to support groups and resources to help them manage the challenges of caregiving.
Expedite care coordination among medical providers:
Cancer patients often see multiple medical specialists. Access to up-to-date records can help providers streamline information sharing and improve care coordination. When data systems from several specialists can communicate with each other seamlessly, care is faster and more effective.
Improve rural access to high-quality cancer care:
Cancer treatment requires a specialized medical professional known as an oncologist. Unfortunately, many individuals living in rural locations in the United States do not have easy access to an oncologist or have to travel far for specialty care. Broadband-enabled technology could facilitate online doctor visits and connect cancer patients in underserved locations to high-quality cancer care.
Reduce the burden of cancer:
Having the capacity to share data can expedite research and scientific discovery. Broadband-enabled technology empowers researchers to share findings which may help oncologists develop new ways to prevent and treat cancer.
The Future of Connected Health and Cancer: Many communities across the country are starting to use connected technology to improve access to cancer care. The Connect2HealthFCC Task Force has partnered with the National Cancer Institute to advance connected health technology for the treatment of cancer. You can learn more about this effort at http://www.fcc.gov/health/cancer.
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