For patients in dermato-oncological studies, regular examinations and visits to the doctor are indispensable. New technologies can significantly facilitate trial care by digitally engaging patients.
Digital dermato-oncology trials: How AI analyses adverse events
Just as patients vary in their medical history, so do adverse events in dermato-oncology trials. Typical adverse events (AE) include symptoms such as dizziness, nausea or stress. Artificial intelligence (AI) supports the evaluation of AEs: it detects complex correlations between individual patient characteristics and possible side effects.
This is achieved with the help of data on previous illnesses and occurring symptoms. From these, the AI determines risk values for adverse events. For example, if chemotherapy is excluded as a factor, in a dermato-oncological study the AI detects even non-specific complaints, such as nausea, vomiting or right-sided stomach and abdominal pain, as potential signs of an immune-mediated liver inflammation.
Warning messages are then sent automatically to the responsible study centres so that doctors can check the suspected cases immediately. As a result, side effects can be mitigated by adjusting the medication.
By cross-referencing with other study data, AI helps to identify potentially undocumented adverse events by identifying missed documentation and providing queries for review. Thus, AI offers the following benefits in this use case:
- Saving time by evaluating important information in advance
- Avoidance of inaccuracies in the final evaluation of the data
- Improved medical care for patients by monitoring and forecasting their state of health
Digitising the education of skin cancer patients through apps
Doctors regularly inform patients about the course of their treatment during their participation in the study. Nevertheless, questions often arise about the course of the study and changes in the clinical picture. The patient app, among other things, provides support here: it accompanies and informs study participants outside of regular visits.
The app educates patients about their condition, possible symptoms and the resulting treatment. In addition to a dictionary to look up medical terms, personalised videos and notifications educate.
Within dermato-oncological studies, patients can learn more about self-examination of their moles using the ABCDE rule (Asymmetry, Border, Colour, Diameter and Evolving). At the same time, integrated chatbots can answer patients' questions directly.
The sponsor of skin cancer studies decides whether patients receive a permanent insight into the course of the study via the app used. If information is shared in this way, study participants have access to summaries of their treatment to date or initial study results. One advantage of this is that they feel more involved and are motivated to remain part of the study.
Better patient care through digital sessions
Most recently, the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic showed the necessity and potential of telemedicine. Visits to practices and clinics were restricted or even stopped. But even before the pandemic, the full potential of digitalisation was not being exploited. Regular virtual sessions in trials that allow patients digital symptom queries and follow-ups from home not only offers independence from environmental influences and car travel, but also expands the search field for potential participants as they are not tied to a specific location.
Direct contact with doctors supports many patients and facilitates their participation in the study. Whether via text or video chat, patients are regularly followed up on, even if there are a few weeks between on-site visits. In addition, smartphone- or computer-based video solutions lead to greater acceptance, as they are not only convenient to use, but also time-efficient.
If televisits are combined with data collected at home (for example through questionnaires or biosensors), virtual sessions can be made much more efficient. One possibility is the use of a sensor in the ear, which allows selective or continuous measurement of
- body temperature
- heart rate
- blood oxygen saturation
and thus reducing the number of visits to the study site.
If these values flow into the assessment of the state of health and current therapy design, therapies are individualised more efficiently. At the same time, patients gain access to better medical care.