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Commentary

Championing eHealth in Clinical Care

Margaret "Margie" Hickey
CJON 2020, 24(3), 4-9 DOI: 10.1188/20.CJON.S1.4-9

Since 1959, the rate of technological advancements, which has been buoyed by the evolution of microprocessors that stimulate innovation, has grown exponentially, doubling every 12 to 18 months (Roser & Ritchie, 2020). In 2020, it is impossible to walk down the street without seeing people checking their smartphones. However, it was only four decades ago that the personal computer was first introduced into the marketplace. It has been a little more than a decade since the first smartphone—the iPhone by Apple—was released in 2007, followed by the release of the iPad in 2010 (Zimmermann, 2017). As of 2019, an estimated 269 million people in the United States use smartphones (Holst, 2019). Increased technological advancements, as well as the widespread availability of these technologies and their application to Americans’ daily lives, have become the norm. In the clinical nursing care of patients with cancer, the use of technology is also gaining momentum. This supplement to the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing explores how technology in health care can extend and enhance clinical oncology nursing care.

Since 1959, the rate of technological advancements, which has been buoyed by the evolution of microprocessors that stimulate innovation, has grown exponentially, doubling every 12 to 18 months (Roser & Ritchie, 2020). In 2020, it is impossible to walk down the street without seeing people checking their smartphones. However, it was only four decades ago that the personal computer was first introduced into the marketplace. It has been a little more than a decade since the first smartphone—the iPhone by Apple—was released in 2007, followed by the release of the iPad in 2010 (Zimmermann, 2017). As of 2019, an estimated 269 million people in the United States use smartphones (Holst, 2019). Increased technological advancements, as well as the widespread availability of these technologies and their application to Americans’ daily lives, have become the norm. In the clinical nursing care of patients with cancer, the use of technology is also gaining momentum. This supplement to the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing explores how technology in health care can extend and enhance clinical oncology nursing care.

Establishing a point of reference for this supplement, Doyle-Lindrud (2020) reviews various technologies applied to clinical cancer care in “State of eHealth in Cancer Care: Review of the Benefits and Limitations of eHealth Tools.” From her comprehensive search of the eHealth clinical cancer care literature, Doyle-Lindrud suggests that eHealth has the potential to transform cancer care by extending services directly to the patient. eHealth technologies can bring clinical patient care to where the patient resides, whether that is a remote area with limited access to oncology services or just down the street, overcoming transportation inconveniences or challenges.

Further exploring how advances in technology can expand patient access to clinical oncology care, Baldwin-Medsker et al. (2020) discuss access in “Access to Care: Using eHealth to Limit Location-Based Barriers for Patients With Cancer.” The authors review how eHealth activities, such as teleoncology, televisits, and remote patient monitoring, can be used to bridge the gaps of physical distance and time. These eHealth methods overcome access barriers and address patient care needs closer to home or in the home. Clinical case studies present eHealth oncology care in practice and illustrate how eHealth care has been adopted by patients with cancer, as well as their clinical care providers. In addition, the authors discuss strategies to successfully incorporate eHealth in clinical practice.

To support clinical oncology care provided by complex healthcare systems, oncology nurse navigators have become essential contributors to interprofessional teleoncology care teams. In “Oncology Nurse Navigation: Expansion of the Navigator Role Through Telehealth,” Rowett and Christensen (2020) provide an overview of the navigator role, establishing it as a virtual clinical resource for patients and their providers. The authors discuss how telenavigation can improve patient outcomes, overcoming clinical care barriers that existed when care had been provided only from brick-and-mortar clinical sites. Through case studies, the role of the oncology nurse navigator is described; this role extends clinical care remotely and even into patients’ homes.

Haase et al. (2020) provide an overview of the further advancement of eHealth as a platform for supportive oncology care in “Supportive Care and eHealth: A Narrative Review of Technologies, Interventions, and Opportunities for Optimizing Care in Patients With Cancer.” The authors present examples of eHealth strategies in supportive care, as well as discuss promising refinements in eHealth supportive oncology care that can affect real-time patient–provider connections to improve patient outcomes.

In 2016, the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) published Oncology Nurse Generalist Competencies, in which education is addressed as a key competency in clinical care and professional development. An oncology nurse “provides education addressing the needs of the patient and caregivers” (ONS, 2016, p. 12) and “engages in learning opportunities to enhance professional knowledge and role maturation in oncology nursing” (ONS, 2016, p. 11). In “eHealth Education: Methods to Enhance Oncology Nursing, Patient, and Caregiver Teaching,” Doorenbos et al. (2020) explore how technological innovations have improved education delivery for clinical oncology nurses and for patients and caregivers. Case studies illustrate eHealth education best practices and provide examples of how clinical oncology nurses can implement eHealth-based education in their practices.

In summary, this supplement aims to introduce opportunities to oncology nurses to help break down the barriers of time and distance, share success stories, and provide eHealth application strategies. To support those goals, the supplement includes a glossary (see Appendix 1), an eHealth project plan checklist (see Appendix 2), and a selected bibliography and listing of online resources that address a number of topics spanning from connectivity and security to nurse licensure and legal issues (see Appendix 3).

As guest editor of this supplement, I thank the dedicated supplement authors, who provided their expertise to this collaborative and comprehensive resource. Because of the authors’ contributions, this supplement clarifies the current status and future promise of eHealth in clinical oncology nursing care. With this foundation, clinical oncology nurses can better champion eHealth clinical care delivery in their own clinical practices.

About the Author(s)

Margaret “Margie” Hickey, RN, MSN, MS, is the president of MMH Communications LLC in Pensacola Beach, FL. The author takes full responsibility for this content. Hickey formerly worked for Novartis and currently contracts with AbbVie, Celularity, Daiichi Sankyo, Legend, and Veracyte. Hickey can be reached at mmhcommunicationllc@gmail.com, with copy to CJONEditor@ons.org.

 

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