Online Education Effectively Prepares Patients for Chemotherapy

TON - JUNE 2012 VOL 5, NO 5 published on June 29, 2012 in Conference Correspondent

An online chemotherapy therapy education program based on Emmi Solutions is an effective way to educate patients and is a time-saver for oncology nurses, according to nurses from the Hillman Cancer Center at the University of Pittsburgh. They described their program at the 37th Annual Congress of the Oncology Nursing Society held in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Their healthcare system was already using Emmi Solutions in other departments, and based on the success of those programs, the program was introduced into oncology, said Lynda Tunon, RN, MSN, OCN.

The objective is to prepare patients for their first chemotherapy treatment by integrating interactive computer technology that reduces one-on-one teaching time while providing consistent education and maintaining nurse, physician, and patient satisfaction with the process, she said.

Patients and families can view the Emmi Solutions online program at home or in the office prior to their first treatment. The program was piloted in 1 oncology clinic for 3 months and then rolled out to 17 clinics in the outpatient cancer center.

The interactive program uses voice, image, and text to engage patients as active participants in their care. It emphasizes the personal nature of each patient’s treatment, the potential for side effects, and the management of those side effects during treatment and at home, Tunon said.

While patients generally view the program on their own computers, those without computers can use the one at the center, with assistance by office personnel as needed. The next stage of the program will incorporate iPads and other tablets, so that patients can view the program at any site in the office (such as in the infusion chair).

Program Frees Up Nurses for Other Things At the time of this report, 239 patients were registered for the program, 114 (48%) had started it and 104 (44%) had completed it. A patient survey revealed:

  • 91% of patients said the Emmi program answered questions they normally would have called their healthcare providers to discuss
  • 85% of patients felt the program explained risks they did not know about
  • 83% obtained “new information” from the program
  • 72% felt the program would change the way they manage their condition or prepare for their treatment

Patients commented that the program gave them new insights into side effects and when to call their providers, lowered their stress levels, and answered questions they “didn’t know they had.” Physicians felt that understanding and retaining the information was probably accomplished more effectively in the patient’s own home environment. Nurses felt that Emmi was a good starting point for discussion, and it clearly freed up time normally spent in patient education. Prior to Emmi implementation, the average education time was 60 minutes. With patients viewing the program on their own, the average time spent on education by nurses is 30 minutes, Tunon reported. “Our nurses spend 50% less time in discussions with the patient,” she said.

Gloria Gotaskie, RN, MSN, a coauthor, stressed that nurses still have the most significant role in education, but with the online program “patients get the best of both worlds.”

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Last modified: May 21, 2015