World Cancer Day is an international day of action to raise awareness and attention for cancer patients and unite the global community in the fight against this devastating disease. On the occasion of the 23rd World Cancer Day, we look at some aspects of everyday life in cancer treatment and provide insights into which treatment challenges have inspired our solutions.
For 12 years now, OPASCA has been actively supporting staff and patients in the fight against cancer with its solutions – starting in the field of radiotherapy and now extending to all departments. Radiotherapy is one of the three pillars of cancer treatment, along with medication and surgery, and uses radioactive radiation to fight tumours. There are different therapeutic approaches.
In brachytherapy, radiation sources called “seeds” are applied directly to the tumour tissue.
Radiosurgery describes the application of a highly concentrated dose of radiation that creates a kind of scalpel. This can completely destroy tumour tissue with only one treatment using extreme precision.
The most widely used therapy method is teletherapy. During this process a linear accelerator produces radiation and delivers it via the movable gantry. The patient is placed underneath on an adjustable patient table so that the radiation can be applied to him. When it meets his skin, it penetrates several cell layers until it hits the tumour tissue and destroys it. This is usually repeated for at least ten consecutive sessions.
With the tightly planned processes in radiotherapy, the duration of a treatment window for individual patients is often only ten minutes. This makes a fluid workflow essential to ensure that each patient is treated according to schedule without delays. OPASCA is therefore working to simplify the overall treatment process at as many points as possible through a smart workflow. The patient journey essentially consists of check-in, waiting, the way to the treatment, the treatment itself and check-out. The specialist staff however, performs a larger number of tasks during this period, the most necessary of which are listed below:
For all processes listed in blue, OPASCA has been offering tried and tested solutions for medical facilities for 12 years. The resulting optimised workflow covers up to 80 % of the tasks at hand. In this way, we have our users’ back, even in the event of deviations from their routine.
Our Work Flow Suite addresses the very first step of the patient journey. Solutions such as Patient CheckIn, Patient Calling and Patient Navigation almost completely relieve healthcare professionals of the task of calling patients, checking their presence and picking them up from their respective ward within a clinic. This reduces the workload to a few clicks on the screen. At the same time, the patient is enabled to act autonomously upon arrival, all the way to the changing room before treatment.
According to an analysis by the BfS (Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz), reports of treatment errors in the field of radiotherapy mainly concern mistaken identity of patients or mix ups of treatment plans. Before the start of each individual treatment it must therefore be ensured that the right person is irradiated on the right body part. We have developed Patient Validation for this purpose. Before entering the irradiation room, the patient is identified by biometric data . The medical staff is warned in case of patient mix-ups.
The actual treatment is carried out in a so-called irradiation bunker, because the radiation in use can lead to radiation sickness an genetic deformations in the event of unplanned exposure. To protect everyone involved the german Radiation Protection Ordinance therefore regulates the division of radiotherapy rooms in germany into the controlled area, the monitored area the restricted area and the environment. To make it easier to control access to these different areas, we have developed Entry Control. This gives the technical staff the possibility to control access via the cockpit terminal without having to leave the workplace.
Our video monitoring system, which was specifically developed for the irradiation area, also supports this. Our cameras are radiation-resistant to a large extent and thus more durable than those of conventional monitoring systems. In addition, they offer several viewing angles that can be displayed simultaneously on the screen of our cockpit terminal. The high-quality components of our intercom system also ensure a smooth sound quality comparable to that of a recording studio. This allows us to ensure seamless contact with the patient.
As the radiation applied to the patient continues to penetrate the room. The patient is therefore forced to remain alone in the bunker during irradiation – a room made of metres-thick concrete walls with heavy doors and no daylight. An unpleasant atmosphere for the patient and the specialist staff, who have to assume a supervising function in addition to their medical one. From our decade of experience, we know that treatment can be scary for patients despite the intercom connection. This can disrupt a treatment process that relies on absolute precision. Our Face-to-Face Feature makes it easier for the patient to be alone in the radiation bunker. Via screens, the specialist staff or an accompanying person is visible for them. In this way, young patients in particular do not have to do without personal support. In some cases, the use of stressful anaesthesia for immobilisation can also be omitted.
We have designed our Ambience Features to create a calm, more individual and comfortable treatment atmosphere for the patient. We use the influence of sound and light on a person’s physiology, which can contribute to relaxed muscle tone and a slowed heartbeat. Available features include adjusting the room lighting, showing slideshows, or playing music. There can be set individually or according to pre-programmed themes. If required, patients can also connect their own devices to listen to familiar music or an audiobook. This makes it easier for the medical staff to concentrate on the precision of the treatment, as the patient needs less supervision.
Our lighting panels used for Ambience Lighting can additionally serve as a training method for the Deep Inspiration Breath Hold Technique. This is a treatment method that serves to increase precision. It spares surrounding tissue and is mainly used in the neck and thorax area. Here, the patient takes a deep breath and has to reach a certain expansion of the chest and hold his breath until the next command. During this time window, the radiation takes place. This technique requires special cooperation form the patient and increases treatment duration due to the necessary training. Our solution Gating Feedback can shorten this training considerably. By intuitively following the colour changes of the entire room lighting, the patient can see if he is breathing correctly or if his breathing needs to change. This reduces the need for announcements by the professional staff, who in turn can concentrate on the treatment itself.
In this highly sensitive overall process, we will continue to contribute not only to the safety of the treatment process. It is our goal to make the therapy easier for the patient and the staff, both organisationally and psychologically, through our solutions. So that both can fully concentrate on the fight against cancer.
Take advantage of the many opportunities to find out how you can support on the occasion of World Cancer Day. For example, you can participate in online campaigns and live events or through social media discourse. Talk about cancer with friends and family too. Everyone can make a difference through their actions.
Thank you very much for your support.
We at OPASCA are very happy to answer any questions you may have.