Can mHealth be a solution for cancer care?

  • Posted on 05.02.2014

Can mHealth be a solution for cancer care?


Maria Cucciniello

Assistant Professor, Department of Policy Analysis and Public Management, Bocconi University


Claudia Guerrazzi

Research Assistant, CERGAS, Bocconi University


The impressive spread of mobile connectivity in recent years has attracted attention on the infinite possibilities to transform healthcare services, making them accessible to people regardless of their age, social status or geographical location. Thousands of mobile applications have been developed and hundreds of pilot studies have been launched in an attempt to capture a slice of the pie. With increasing prevalence of cancer and rocketing healthcare costs, could mHealth be a solution for cancer supportive care?  We dig in to find out.

With any tool, specifically mhealth, it’s important to gather solid scientific bases that clearly shows the effectiveness of interventions on improving health outcomes, significant cost savings, and better patients’ quality of life. From the recent Consumer Electronics Show (“CES”) to JP Morgen Healthcare conference, digital health has been in conversation ready to deliver everyone access to high quality, personalized and affordable care.

Can mHealth deliver itself as a solution for supportive cancer care?

Background on cancer: 14.1 million new cancer cases, 8.2 million cancer deaths and 32.6 million people living with cancer (within 5 years of diagnosis) in 2012 worldwide[1]: a phenomenon that cannot be ignored. Although the trend for many major cancer types is declining, and the death rates are falling for most cancer types, more and more people are living longer with the disease. Therefore we are seeing a shift in considering cancer as a chronic, and very complex, condition.

A diagnosis and treatment of cancer affects a patient not only physically but also psychologically. The psychological implications many times can get overlooked, especially when tailoring healthcare for these patients. Among these, it needs to be considered that oncological patients often feel more comfortable and secure in the privacy of their home. In fact, most of the patients receiving chemotherapy will experience one or more severe side effects. These can be debilitating and have a profound effect on the individual’s quality of life, for example raising levels of anxiety and depression and increasing isolation. Cancer supportive care aims at relieving and improving the quality of life of the patients and their carers by serving as a bridge between the standard biomedical approach to medical care and the non-medical aspects of the patient’s healing, their families and their caregivers. Addressing side effects prevents the disruption of potentially life-saving cancer treatments, reduces health resource utilization and treatment associated mortality.

This year’s World Cancer Day, lets look at holistic solutions for cancer patients. mhealth can play a central role in connecting all the actors involved in the care process needed by these patients and making sure that the patient’s pain and other physical symptoms are constantly monitored and promptly managed, bringing relief to both the patients and their families.

mhealth for improving quality of life. Enhancing cancer supportive care

Cergas Bocconi and SDA Bocconi School of Management will join together to explore how mobile health can make a difference in patients’ quality of life, with a focus on cancer patients in need of cancer supportive care.

For this, major experts in the field will gather on April 4th, 2014 in Milan, Italy to debate the issue in the international conference “mhealth for improving quality of life. Enhancing cancer supportive care.”  

Find more information on the conference here. Follow the debate and give your opinion on Twitter using the hashtag #Bocconi4mhealth and quoting @sdabocconi.

– Maria Cucciniello and Claudia Guerrazzi, Bocconi University

[1] (GLOBOCAN Project: Ferlay J, Soerjomataram I, Ervik M, Dikshit R, Eser S, Mathers C, Rebelo M, Parkin DM, Forman D, Bray, F. GLOBOCAN 2012 v1.0, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 11.Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2013)


The comments are closed.