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Countdown to Medicine X: Using tablet computers to educate and empower breast cancer patients

A group of researchers in Sweden have been exploring how tablet computers might be used to improve communication between breast-cancer patients and health-care providers during radiation therapy treatment.

At this month's Stanford Medicine X conference, Linnaeus University researcher Martin Oestlund will present his team's findings and discuss the use of tablet computers to efficiently educate patients on their treatment. Oestlund describes his work in a Medicine X abstract:

From April to June 2012 all breast cancer patients scheduled for adjuvant radiation therapy treatment at the county hospital in Kalmar (Sweden) [were] offered the opportunity to borrow a tablet computer during the course of their treatment. The tablet offers secure access to a web site containing illness-, treatment- and clinic-specific information, including a number of videos demonstrating the treatment procedure; a secure discussion forum in which patients can ask questions to staff; and a set of automatically processed surveys that provide staff with instant feedback from patients. Post-treatment interviews [were] conducted with participating patients as well as with the staff on their respective experience of using the tablets. Patients [also filled] out a survey and user logs from the web site [were] analyzed to determine usage patterns.


Computer tablets offer an efficient and accessible way for patients to inform themselves and to communicate with staff. The instant feedback from patients provides staff with the input they need to provide the best possible care, both medically and in providing emotional support. The sense of control, and actual control, over the course of their treatment that this will bring to patients, we believe will lead to a sense of empowerment that will help them better deal with the emotionally taxing experience it is to undergo treatment for a life-threatening condition.

The inaugural Stanford Medicine X conference takes place this Sept. 28-30. For more information or to register, visit the Medicine X conference website.

More news about the Medicine X conference is available in the Medicine X category.

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