Clinicians may not want to admit it, but we aren’t always the best source of information regarding a cancer patient’s symptoms and experience with their disease. When it comes to the interpretation of laboratory results and imaging abnormalities, our input is a critical piece of the puzzle. But when it comes to reporting a patient’s perception of their experience and the impact of interventions on it, we often misinterpret the responses.1 Although many feel that this has limited impact on the care being delivered, a growing body of evidence and opinion argues otherwise. The gold standard for documenting a patient’s experience can only be the patient’s own voice, so it is imperative that they be queried directly.2 In a setting of breakneck technologic advances, the pressing question is not whether the patient’s voice can be heard, but how to most efficiently and reliably record it.
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. Abernethy AP Herndon JE II Wheeler JL Feasibility and acceptability to patients of a longitudinal system for evaluating cancer-related symptoms and quality of life: pilot study of an e/Tablet data-collection system in academic oncology. J Pain Symptom Manage 2009; 37: 1027– 1038.
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Bull J, Zafar SY, Wheeler JL et al.. Establishing a regional, multisite database for quality improvement and service planning in community-based palliative care and hospice. J Palliat Med 2010;13:1013–1020.
Greene SM, Reid RJ, Larson EB. Implementing the learning health system: from concept to action. Ann Intern Med 2012;157:207–210.