Cancer care is improving but care plans are still lagging

Oct 7, 2020 | Cancer Care

The results of the 2019 National Cancer Patient Experience Survey, published in June 2020 suggest that the vast majority of people living with and beyond cancer rated their overall NHS care highly but also revealed that tens of thousands were still not receiving enough care, support or practical advice. With NHS resources likely to be constrained still further by the Covid-19 pandemic, AI-powered patient support and care plans can improve the patient experience without burdening healthcare resources.

Care plans need improvement

The annual National Cancer Patient Experience Survey conducted by the Picker Institute on behalf of NHS England and NHS Improvement asked 67,000 people living with and beyond cancer about all aspects of their care and treatment. The survey revealed that 95% of patients rate their care as seven or above out of 10.

However, the survey also found that only 38% of respondents said they were given a written care plan setting out their needs and goals to care for them. This was an improvement from 35% in 2018 but it falls short of the goal in the NHS Long Term Plan for Cancer that “by 2021, where appropriate, every person diagnosed with cancer will have access to personalised care, including needs assessment, a care plan and health and wellbeing information and support”.

Covid-19 increases the burden.

The 2019 survey was completed before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s been predicted by many that the health and social care resources diverted toward dealing with this emergency will have a devastating impact delaying diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients throughout 2020 and beyond. But, just as technology has been used to overcome some of the challenges wrought by Covid -19 in the form of video consultations and remote assessments and the use of consumer-oriented apps, so too have advanced technologies such as AI.

Personalising care with AI.

AI can be used to create a care plan, personalised for the patient and their diagnosis. Tests, investigations and next steps will be automatically scheduled and notified to the patient as they leave their consultation and presenting each patient with a clear plan and timing of next steps. Education and support personalised to the patient’s diagnosis and circumstances and accessed by them whenever and wherever they are. The promise of digital technologies such as AI will create a new space for interaction, wellbeing and ongoing care.

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Authors MIss. Zaynab Khan, Dr Aswini Misro