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Electronic tool to aid cancer care

An innovative electronic tool to help deliver more personalised care to people with cancer has been developed by the charity Macmillan Cancer Support.

The electronic Holistic Needs Assessment (eHNA) provides patients with detailed needs assessments through a touch screen tablet. The information is then sent to the clinician through a secure website, and provides the framework for setting up a personalised care plan.

An evaluation of the effectiveness of the eHNA by Ipsos Mori found that more than half (54%) of the patients that used it said it helped them to discuss concerns with their healthcare team. More than one in three (36%) felt more confident to talk about personal sensitive issues.

An analysis which took data from almost 4,000 care plans based on eHNAs gave an insight into the main concerns of people with cancer after diagnosis.

It highlighted that a quarter (25%) struggle to manage the emotional impact of the disease, with many facing sleep problems, nightmares, fear and anxiety.

The top 10 issues that people with cancer are concerned about are:

1 Worry, fear or anxiety

2 Tiredness / exhaustion or fatigue

3 Sleep problems / nightmares

4 Pain

5 Eating or appetite

6 Anger or frustration

7 Getting around (walking)

8 Memory or concentration

9 Hot flushes / sweating

10 Sore or dry mouth

Juliet Bouverie, the charity's director of services and influencing, said: "What we can see from the eHNA results is that having structured quality conversations with clinicians, framed by a needs assessment, is beneficial for people with cancer.

"In addition, giving healthcare professionals a picture of what matters most to their patients can help inform the planning and provision of their care. Today's evaluation of the eHNA provides more evidence that people with cancer have very complex needs and are far more than just a set of symptoms to be treated."

Anyone needing support or information was urged to visit or call 0808 808 00 00.

:: Macmillan Cancer Support is working with more than 40 hospital trusts across England, Scotland and Wales to implement the eHNA, and would like to see the holistic needs assessment, either in paper or electronic form, fully rolled out in every country of the UK.

:: The analysis of data from the eHNA online database included information from 5,176 needs assessments carried out in 46 sites in England, Scotland and Wales. Some 3,855 care plans and 4,788 actions were taken forward by clinicians and patients.

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