How a Digital Case Management Platform Affects Community-Based Palliative Care of Sub-Saharan African Cancer Patients: Clinician-Users' Perspectives

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Applied Clinical Informatics

MeSH Headings

Humans; Palliative Care (methods); Case Management; Specialization; Neoplasms (therapy); Africa South of the Sahara


BACKGROUND: Symptom control among cancer patients is a Tanzanian public health priority impacted by limited access to palliative care (PC) specialists and resources. Mobile Palliative Care Link (mPCL), a mobile/web application, aims to extend specialist access via shared care with local health workers (LHWs) with the African alliative care utcome cale (POS) adapted for regular, automated symptom assessment as a core feature. OBJECTIVE: The aim of the study is to assess clinicians' attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions regarding mPCL usability and utility with their patients within a government-supported, urban Tanzanian cancer hospital setting. METHODS: We used a mixed methods approach including surveys, qualitative interviews, and system usage data to assess clinicians' experience with mPCL in a field study where discharged, untreatable cancer patients were randomized to mPCL or phone-contact POS collection. RESULTS: All six specialists and 10 LHWs expressed overall satisfaction with mPCL among 49 intervention arm patients. They perceived mPCL as a way to stay connected with patients and support remote symptom control. Timely access to POS responses and medical records were identified as key benefits. Some differences in perceptions of mPCL use and utility were seen between clinician groups; however, both expressed strong interest in continuing app use, recommending it to colleagues, and extending use throughout Tanzania. Primary use was for clinical status communication and care coordination. Pain and other symptom progression were the most frequently reported reasons for provider-patient interactions accounting for 34% ( = 44) and 12% ( = 15) of reasons, respectively. Usage barriers included time required to create a new clinical record, perceived need for response to non-urgent reminders or alerts, and training. necessary for competent use. System-level implementation barriers included variable patient access to smartphones and SIM cards and unreliable Internet access. CONCLUSION: This work demonstrates broad clinician desire for digital health tools to support remote community-based PC among cancer patients, particularly pain management.

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