Smartphone App Helps Patients Manage Cancer Pain

March 27, 2019 by Elisa Becze BA, ELS, Editor

A smartphone app that monitors patients’ self-reported cancer pain and uses artificial intelligence (AI) to differentiate urgent and non-urgent issues and provide real-time recommendations significantly reduced pain and pain-related hospital admissions, researchers reported in an abstract presented at the November 2018 Palliative and Supportive Care in Oncology Symposium in San Diego, CA.

Researchers evaluated use of the app in 112 patients, half of whom received standard care and half whom used the app in addition to standard pain care. Patients received daily pain management tip alerts on their smartphones and entered their pain reports on the app at least three times per week. If their pain was moderate, the app provided tailored educational feedback about how to self-manage it. If their pain was severe or worsening, the app alerted a nurse who responded within an hour. 

Use of the app resulted in a 20% reduction in pain and almost 70% fewer hospital admissions because of pain during the eight-week test period. All of the patients had a pain level of about 4 on a 0–10 scale at baseline; those receiving standard care remained at an average of 4 whereas those using the app saw their pain levels decrease to 2.99. 

Find ONS’s evidence-based resources for managing pain, including acute pain, breakthrough pain, and chronic pain.


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