In multiple prospective studies, integrating ePROs into routine cancer care has improved patient–clinician communication, patient satisfaction, symptom management and control, and quality of life.17 In general, when patients receiving active cancer treatment or following their cancer surgery are offered an electronic system to self-report symptoms, 80% to 85% will regularly provide this information, even over long periods of time, and even when elderly, ill, or have end-stage disease.18 Nurses find symptom email alerts to be useful and actionable. Recent data have found reductions in emergency room visits, longer tolerability of chemotherapy, and improved survival.17 This evidence of benefits has led to a growing interest in this approach.
To help overcome the challenges discussed and foster an environment for collecting real-world PRO data, Cardinal Health is developing a Practice Research Network (PRN). The PRN will consist of practices that have been assessed by Cardinal Health to determine their capability to participate in potential PRO research studies sponsored by Cardinal Health pharmaceutical manufacturer clients. Practices in the PRN that participate in a sponsored research study may be required to identify, recruit, and enroll the patients in the study. The practices may also be asked to complete an electronic case report form (eCRF) to define the clinical characteristics, treatment patterns, and disease-related outcomes. Patients may be able to complete an ePRO instrument via a web-based portal, as practices in the PRN will have no infrastructure requirements that will need to be installed at their locations. Through a unique patient key, the clinical and PRO data could be linked, and privacy protections maintained.