For many cancer patients—especially those living with blood cancers like leukemia—cell therapy has been a literal life saver. CAR-T therapy in particular has a demonstrated remission rate of 76%. Unfortunately, serious complications can arise in the wake of cell therapies like CAR-T, including cytokine release syndrome (CRS) and immune effector cell-associated neurotoxicity syndrome (ICANS). Early detection of these syndromes is key, and digital solutions can decrease the risk of complications. To learn more, read on or download our white paper, Remote patient monitoring to simplify risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS) protocols.
While healthcare providers are well aware of the risk of CRS and ICANS in patients receiving cell therapy—and therefore expect that any patient receiving this type of therapy is likely to have a complication—it's difficult to predict which patients will experience severe symptoms. Current monitoring processes depend on patients and caregivers reporting symptoms, and even in inpatient settings, monitoring relies heavily on the nursing staff. This can limit the number of patients who can receive cell therapy in any given hospital at one time.
"I felt overwhelmed," one caregiver says. "It was 30 days of 24/7 monitoring. My role as the caregiver was to monitor for neurotoxicity and take his temperature three times a day. We taped the printout the nurse had given us near his bed. I had to Google a lot of it. There was always some anxiety. I was the most worried about neurotoxicity. The doctors said it was irreversible with more long-term damage."
Additionally, cell therapies are often unavailable in remote hospitals, and patients have to travel to receive treatment. Since the risk of complications is so high, they have to stay near the clinic immediately after receiving treatment, which can be a logistical and financial challenge. If the patient needs extensive inpatient treatment for a complication, the cost skyrockets.
Many patients experience anxiety when they are expected to monitor themselves for potential complications at home.
"I was afraid to go to sleep or have any heavy meds [post treatment]," one patient explains. "I wanted—needed—to feel alert to watch for symptoms."
Connected wearables are immensely valuable to patients and their care teams. Whether at home or in a hospital or clinic, these devices provide automated checks of vital signs. This information helps providers to quickly identify the early signs of CRS or ICANS. With early intervention, pain and suffering can be avoided and the patient's quality of life can often be preserved.
Patient and caregiver support apps can provide invaluable guidance for navigating the first 30 days post cell therapy treatment. Between educational content, data capture capabilities, status trackers, care team messaging systems and more, these apps enable patients and their caregivers to gain peace of mind during this vital period of recovery.
To learn more about how digital solutions can aid in early detection of complications from cell therapies, check out our white paper, Remote patient monitoring to simplify risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS) protocols.