Home monitoring can increase life expectancy and quality of life of cancer patients

8 April 2022

A smart plaster will soon provide cancer patients with thorough follow-up at home.  The system will continuously monitor the patient's values and communicates with the entire medical team – going from specialists to home carers. This allows rapid intervention, while the patient can stay in familiar surroundings. With OncoCare@Home, a Belgian consortium of Byteflies, nexuzhealth, Wit-Gele Kruis Oost-Vlaanderen, Leuven Cancer Institute and UZ Leuven wants to reduce hospital admissions with 10% and significantly improve life expectancy and quality of life. The project was established thanks to the spearhead cluster  flanders.healthTech and VLAIO. 

Telemonitoring kan de levensverwachting van kankerpatiënten gevoelig verhogen en (her)opname in het ziekenhuis helpen voorkomen. (Beeld: © Byteflies)

Constant monitoring, including from home, could be of big added value to the treatment plan for cancer, both for the patient and the medical team. Telemonitoring can significantly increase the life expectancy of cancer patients and help prevent (re-)admission to the hospital. Via constant follow-up and communication with the various care professionals it is possible to react sooner to any adverse effects the treatment might have, or any other factors, such as infections that could endanger the patient. 

OncoCare@Home: complementary expertise

A consortium between wearables specialist Byteflies, an expert in electronic patient records nexuzhealth, the Leuven Cancer Institute, UZ Leuven and Wit-Gele Kruis Oost-Vlaanderen will ensure the roll-out of structural home monitoring OncoCare@Home. The partners use their complementary expertise to develop a user-friendly solution, personalised for both patient and care professional. They get the help from Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship (VLAIO) which supports the project with 1 million euro.

Hans Danneels, co-CEO of Byteflies: “We're very pleased to be able to work with our partners to help improve the prognosis and quality of life of cancer patients. In a first phase we will focus on the development of a system specifically for the medical profile a cancer patient displays during both the treatment and recovery phase. For this, we look at a user-friendly solution in the shape of a smart plaster the patient can stick on and which monitors the various values 24/7. This type of system has already proven its worth for other chronical disorders in terms of user-friendliness for the patient as well as the specialists and hospital staff.”

Nexuzhealth – which currently manages the largest patient portal in Flanders – will import and process the data the smart plaster collects in the electronic patient record. This will be shared with the attending doctors and care teams in the hospital and the first line. This way data from the home situation can be interpreted together with the medical history of the patient. 

Gertie Delande, CEO nexuzhealth: “Our added value lies in our technical expertise: setting up platforms and capturing and processing data to create a patient-oriented and user-friendly solution. By integrating the data gathered by such a smart plaster in our patient records, we will be able to better help care providers to make quick and accurate analyses, which will obviously be a benefit for quality of care. And with this project we are taking an important step in our future vision - to optimise digital care, together with our strategic partners.”

Nexuzhealth also has the ambition to link its technology to the workflows of the Wit-Gele Kruis Oost-Vlaanderen, the biggest player in home care in Flanders.

Wim Allemeersch, general director Wit-Gele Kruis Oost-Vlaanderen: “We often support people with cancer when they are recovering at home. It would be a big added value for our teams to have constant readings from those patients. To better and quicker assess their condition.”

Follow-up adverse effects

Clinical trials for OncoCare@Home will be coordinated at UZ Leuven and the Leuven Cancer Institute (LKI), a point of reference for cancer treatments in our country. 

If we can detect adverse effects sooner and provide better follow-up via telemonitoring, we can not only improve the quality of life of some cancer patients but also their life expectancy.
Prof. dr. Michel Delforge, haematologist at UZ Leuven and chairman of the Leuven Cancer Institute LKI

Prof. dr. Michel Delforge, voorzitter van het LKI: "De huidige kankerbehandelingen worden almaar doeltreffender, maar vaak moeten ze langdurig worden gegeven en elke behandeling kan specifieke nevenwerkingen hebben. Sommige van die nevenwerkingen zijn vervelend, andere kunnen gevaarlijk zijn. Denk maar aan infecties of cardiale toxiciteit. Als we neveneffecten sneller kunnen detecteren en beter opvolgen via telemonitoring, dan kunnen we niet alleen de levenskwaliteit, maar ook de levensverwachting van sommige kankerpatiënten verbeteren."

De partners zullen zich dit jaar richten op de ontwikkeling van de monitoringsoplossing om in 2023 de testfase te kunnen starten. De ambitie is om tegen 2027 zo’n 10 000 patiënten in België op te volgen met OncoCare@Home.

Last edit: 14 July 2022