RELIEF: A Remote, Self-Monitoring App for Palliative Care

Senior male using a tablet

Award Date: 2018

Project Lead(s): Martin Chasen, Palliative Care physician

Project Title: Remote Self-Monitoring of Symptoms by Patients with a Palliative Care Designation (RELIEF)

What is the issue?

With an increasingly older population, demand for palliative care services is growing. It is difficult for care partners to know when a doctor should see their loved ones and wait times are increasing.  

What did we do?

We developed a prototype of a web application called RELIEF. It allowed individuals in palliative care to report their symptoms, such as pain and distress, daily, using a computer or mobile device. It sent alerts when symptoms became more severe to their care providers. We conducted a two-month pilot study. palliative nurse conducted tele-health assessments via the Ontario Telemedicine Network for individuals who needed care during regular business hoursAfter hours, a palliative physician conducted the tele-health assessments. The most appropriate follow-up care visits were arranged as needed.   

What did we find?

Sixty consultations were provided by telephone. Five individuals were referred to palliative clinic for urgent care and a healthcare professional provided urgent care to one individual in their home. Seven individuals received non-urgent care. Two families whose loved ones had died at home received support. Doctors said the app increased their confidence in providing palliative care and believed it improved patients’ experiences. Over our two-month study the innovation saved the healthcare system an estimated $62,000.