MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The National Cancer Institute has awarded the West Virginia University School of Nursing $366,000 over two years for a pilot study aimed at reducing high healthcare costs associated with lung cancer patients while improving their quality of life. The study, to be implemented by Georgia Narsavage, Ph.D., R.N., dean of the WVU School of Nursing, and co-principal investigator, Yea-Jyh Chen, Ph.D., R.N., proposes home telemonitoring as a way for patients to manage their health, stay connected to healthcare professionals and spend less time in the hospital.

“High costs of care for patients with lung cancer have been related to frequent hospitalizations and emergency room visits,” Dr. Narsavage said. “There is a critical need to help people with lung cancer recognize changes in their condition and contact a clinician before emergency care is needed. The home telemonitoring study at WVU will teach lung cancer patients how to do that and get them used to monitoring their health.”

The study will involve 60 lung cancer patients at WVU Hospitals who live within a 50 mile radius of Morgantown. They will be randomly assigned to either the telemonitor group or usual care group before being discharged from the hospital. Those in the test group will have a telemonitoring system set up in their homes and be guided on how to use the device to transmit important health data such as blood pressure and oxygen readings to a clinical research nurse at WVU.

The telemonitor group will also answer 10 yes or no questions relating to their symptoms. The research nurse will call the patients every day throughout a 14-day period to help them understand their symptoms and coach them on when and how to contact their physician. Each patient and a family member will complete a survey to measure the patient’s quality of life during that time. The nurse will also do a 30 and 60 day follow-up.

The goal of the study is to decrease unplanned and repeat hospital admissions or emergency visits and to support the patient’s ability to live in his or her personal home most of the time. “Home telemonitoring using a self-management model has been successful in reducing healthcare costs associated with heart patients, but there is no literature indicating it’s ever been used to benefit lung cancer patients,” Narsavage said.

Another part of the WVU study will assess the potential cost savings in healthcare for lung cancer patients by using home telemonitoring. “Addressing health disparities for adults with lung cancer by cost-effectively reducing risks for rehospitalization and emergency care and improving quality of life is critical to Healthy People 2010,” said Narsavage.  Healthy People 2010 is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to prevent disease and promote health for the nation.

For more information: Amy Johns, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
ss: 04-15-11