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Patient Engagement for Cancer Survivors (and wearing ‘Plaid For Dad’)

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North American health systems have invested billions upon billions of dollars in Health IT that supports formal clinical services. These investments might be optimizing clinical efficiency and, hopefully, improving patient safety. But health systems still need to increase investment in technologies that directly engage and support patients in their daily life; where individual behaviors have the greatest impact on health, wellness and quality of life.

Take prostate cancer survivorship for example. Earlier diagnosis and improved treatments are helping more men live longer with prostate cancer. But the effects of treatment can be significant. The side effects of chemotherapy and hormonal therapies are unique for each individual. Managing these side effects can be challenging because it’s so personalized. Even the best clinical IT systems give clinicians almost no ability to support survivors in their daily lives, and on  the difficult days they face.

Chemotherapy can cause everything from abdominal pain and fatigue to numbness in hands and feet that can affect mobility and dexterity. Survivors must deal with the side effects of chemotherapy for the duration of treatment and for some duration following. Hormonal therapy can cause everything from hot flashes and sexual dysfunction to depression and increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. Survivors must deal with these side effects for the duration of their survivorship.

So even if we consider cancer an acute disease, its successful treatment often leads to chronic conditions that require active self-management for a survivor to achieve their best possible quality of life. Self-managing chronic conditions inevitably comes down to four health behaviors: taking medications as prescribed, practicing mindfulness, eating well, and exercising appropriately. These behaviors might seem simple and obvious, but achieving long lasting behavior change can be complex and difficult.

This is why NexJ Health is proud to be working with Prostate Cancer Canada and Movember in the early stages of what will become a robust pan-Canadian survivorship program. When fully deployed, the program will engage and support prostate cancer survivors and their carers. This is also why NexJ Health is participating in Prostate Cancer Canada’s “Plaid For Dad” event this Father’s day season on Friday, June 19th.