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Tablet PC Technology Helps Doctors and Patients Focus on Chemotherapy Side Effects, According to Thomson Healthcare Study
Date:9/18/2007

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Sept. 18 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- In a study published by the Journal of Supportive Care in Cancer, researchers from Thomson Healthcare found that when cancer patients used a handheld computer before office visits to rate and report their pain, fatigue, and depression, doctors were significantly more likely to address these potentially debilitating symptoms and side effects. Thomson Healthcare is part of The Thomson Corporation (NYSE: TOC; TSX: TOC).

The three-year study, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, evaluated the PACE System(TM) (Patient Assessment, Care and Education), which uses notebook-sized tablet PCs equipped with touch-screen technology and specialized software. When patients arrived for office visits, they used the handheld computers to complete a self-assessment that automatically uploaded to a wireless network and produced a detailed, real-time report on their symptoms for their doctors.

Researchers assessed whether this technology effectively addressed a chronic problem in cancer treatment: chemotherapy side effects often are not reported, diagnosed, or treated because patients lack information about the success of interventions and physicians lack detailed, real-time information on patients' symptoms.

"Many times, chemotherapy-related symptoms and side effects can be prevented or controlled, but they often go untreated because patients don't bring them up and it's challenging for a busy oncology practice to incorporate symptom screening into its daily workflow," said Tami Mark, Ph.D., associate research director at Thomson Healthcare and lead investigator for the study. "This study found that the right technology can effectively address the problem without burdening physicians or their staffs."

A review of patients' charts concluded that only nine percent were assessed for depression before the symptom-screening system was implemented, compared with 73 percent afterward. The assessment rate for fatigue increased from 63 percent to 92 percent, and the assessment of pain increased from 76 percent to 97 percent.

"This study illustrates the value of health information technology, when properly designed with ongoing input from patients and providers, in improving patient outcomes and overall quality of care," said David K. Ahern, Ph.D., national program director of the Health e-Technologies Initiative, the National Program Office of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that sponsored the research.

A majority of physicians in the study reported that the system helped them identify patient problems, focus their patient interviews, track changes in patient symptoms, and document symptoms. Though the system increased the amount of time physicians spent discussing patients' symptoms, they were able to focus on significant side effects and decrease the time spent on unimportant symptoms.

More than half the patients in the study said the assessment helped them remember symptoms, and 44 percent said it helped them discuss symptoms with their physician.

About the Study

The study was conducted by Thomson Healthcare; Supportive Oncology Services, Inc.; and Accelerated Community Oncology Research Network, Inc. Supportive Oncology Services, Inc. developed the technology evaluated in the study.

The authors are Tami L. Mark, Ph.D., from Thomson Healthcare, and Barry Fortner, Ph.D., and Gina Johnson, M.S.N., both from Supportive Oncology Services, Inc. and Accelerated Community Oncology Research Network, Inc.

About Thomson Healthcare

Thomson Healthcare is the leading provider of decision support solutions that help organizations across the healthcare industry improve clinical and business performance. Thomson Healthcare products and services help clinicians, hospitals, employers, health plans, government agencies, and pharmaceutical companies manage the cost and improve the quality of healthcare. Thomson Healthcare is a part of The Thomson Corporation, a provider of value-added information, software tools and applications to professionals in the fields of healthcare, law, tax, accounting, scientific research, and financial services. The Corporation's common shares are listed on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges (NYSE: TOC; TSX: TOC). For more information, visit (http://www.thomsonhealthcare.com).

About Supportive Oncology Services, Inc. (SOS)

Supportive Oncology Services, Inc. (SOS) is an information and outcomes company working closely with community oncology practices and oncology academic centers who touch over a half million cancer patients across the US and in Singapore. SOS collaborates with cancer providers, patients, payers, bio-technology and pharmaceutical companies, the financial industry, and other cancer-related industry leaders on a diverse set of clinical, financial, and operational initiatives. By continuously offering improvements, measuring results and providing value to the patient, SOS helps cancer clinics define and indisputably improve the quality of cancer care provided. For more information, visit http://www.supportiveoncologyservices.com.

About Accelerated Community Oncology Research Network, Inc. (ACORN)

The ACORN network includes over 30 progressive community oncology practices located throughout the U.S. and in Singapore. This collaboration of select community oncology clinics provides patients with access to the most promising clinical trials available anywhere. By employing the ACORN centralized model of efficiency and advanced technology, ACORN network members enjoy the advantage of a quicker and more efficient research process. By linking like-minded practices in a cooperative network, ACORN consistently meets accrual objectives and delivers quality data collection. For more information, visit http://www.acornresearch.net.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. Helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need-the Foundation expects to make a difference in our lifetime.


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SOURCE Thomson Healthcare
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