Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men. Every year, over 5,000 men in Finland are diagnosed with it. If the cancer is local, it can usually be treated curatively with surgery or radiotherapy.
After treatment, the patient receives regular laboratory tests that measure the blood’s PSA levels. If the PSA level increases suddenly, it can be a sign that the cancer has come back.
Mylab Oy, a health care software company located in Tampere, offers its clients a service that sends PSA follow-up results to the patient’s phone on the same day as the testing. The service is called My+ care© PSA.
A similar service is already in use for intestinal cancer patients who attend regular CEA tumour marker measurements.
Benefits for patients and care units alike
Head Physician and Head of Urology Department Peter Boström from Turku University Hospital (TYKS) tells us that prostate cancer patients have been happy with the service.
Patients receive laboratory test results much more quickly than before. The mobile follow-up service reduces unnecessary visits to the hospital and saves the nursing staff’s working time for cases where patients need personal guidance or care, he summarises.
Head Physician Antti Rannikko from Helsinki University Hospital’s (HUS) Department of Urology sees many advantages in the service.
Compared with other options, it significantly reduces costs. Moreover, it reduces the risk of delayed detection of any recurrence of the disease, he emphasises.
If PSA levels have risen, the system sends an alert to the urological nurse, who contacts the patient for further testing. The patient receives a text message notification that the nursing unit will soon be in contact. The threshold for triggering the alert can be set individually.
Mobile follow-up is suitable for prostate cancer patients who have no signs of cancer after treatment and who only receive follow-up to monitor their PSA-levels. Some patients on medication are also suitable for it, says Peter Boström.
At HUS, the service also covers some patients whose cancer is being actively monitored or treated.
Since implementation of the mobile follow-up service, between outpatient control visits, patients no longer need to be sent PSA-results using traditional means now that the results can be sent quickly to the patient’s phone, Antti Rannikko reiterates.
Increasing adoption of the service
Mylab’s mobile follow-up service was launched in the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District in 2012. Service adoption has increased gradually and it now covers almost 4,500 prostate cancer patients.
At TYKS, the service was implemented in 2017 and now covers over 500 prostate cancer patients. Additionally, almost 100 intestinal cancer patients at TYKS use a similar service.
The newest unit to adopt the system is South Karelia Social and Health Care District (Eksote), with approximately 70 patients using the mobile service for monitoring PSA.
The mobile follow-up service can easily be expanded to cover other patient groups who need regular laboratory check-ups, says Tiina Mäkinen, product manager for the My+ care service family at Mylab.
At the moment, the service is also being used for patients taking warfarin, a blood-thinning medicine. The patients receive their INR results and care instructions automatically by text message after visiting the laboratory.
Text message reminders of control visits
Reminders of control visits can easily be added to the service. If the patient forgets the visit despite a first reminder, another message can be sent automatically.
The system does not send a reminder if the patient did attend the control visit, however.
In this way, a cancer patient, for instance, does not receive an unnecessary fright that he or she should return for further laboratory tests, Tiina Mäkinen explains.