FOX CHASE (WPVI) -- Two local nurses have created a checks and balances system to better monitor oral chemotherapy use, something they say was badly needed.
Their Oral Chemo Tracker is now getting national attention, both for cancer care and potential use for other medications.
Maria Market, BSN, PCCN and Allison Ward, MSN, OCN, CCRN, RN-BC have years of experience in Fox Chase Cancer Center's ambulatory clinic.
The pair launched a new tool, a smart form, to help them keep patients taking oral chemotherapy drugs on target.
"There needed to be some specific tracking method that it could be completed through," says Ward.
When oral chemotherapy is prescribed, nurses do regularly follow up to make sure patients are taking it as prescribed, or if they are having side effects, or need refills.
But Fox Chase needed a better system to manage it. In a 2020 review, the center learned that only a third of patients on oral chemotherapy had a documented plan, only 7% were assessed for adherence, and none had documentation on efforts to address not taking their medication.
"These drugs can be really harmful if not taken appropriately," says Market.
This new electronic medical record stays with the patient, going from chart to chart, as long as they are on the drug and can be accessed by anyone treating that patient.
"Maria may talk to the patient one day, and then if I'm covering her clinic a few weeks later, I can reference back to it and see that Maria spoke to them. Our pharmacy also has access to it as well as the physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants," notes Ward.
They say these simple conversations with the patients can actually reveal so much more.
"We find out other things, they might have issues with other medications that they're taking, issues with side effects from other things that are going on or just having issues in general," says Market.
The program has been a success at Fox Chase, however, Market and Ward don't think the tool will be limited to cancer care.
"It really opens up the door for not just chemotherapy drugs," Market says, "There's a lot of people in this world that are on a ton of medications. And really if you don't talk to them, most of them don't know what they're on them for, why they're taking them, how much they're taking."
The two detailed this success this spring at the 47th annual ONS (Oncology Nursing Society) Congress in Anaheim, California.
One year after the launch of the smart form, a pilot study showed that patients contacted after starting oral chemotherapy rose from 4% to 35%, and documented discussions on taking them properly went from 0 to 78%.