An e-health application to facilitate and innovate supportive care in cancer patients

There is growing interest in using patient-reported outcomes (PRO’s) to screen for physical and psychosocial problems and the need for supportive care in routine clinical practice and several studies have shown  that using PRO’s in clinical practice facilitates communication about quality of life between doctors and patients.

At the department of Otolaryngology / Head & Neck Surgery of VU University Medical Center (VUmc), efficient structured monitoring of quality of life has become available in 2006 by a newly developed touch-screen computer-based data collection system “OncoQuest” (figure 1) that is now implemented in routine clinical practice. Patients can independently fill in the EORTC QLQ-C30, and tumor specific modules, and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) on a touch screen. It takes on average 9 minutes to complete the questionnaires. OncoQuest is linked to the hospital patient information system. Data are processed in real-time and care providers can view the results by clear graphics (the well-being profile) on a computer in their consulting rooms and, if indicated, set up an individual supportive care plan. Nurses are trained as care navigators to organize the supportive care according to disease management principles.

OncoQuest is also adapted for patients with hematological cancer, lung cancer, patients with brain tumours, and patients with retinoblastoma and their parents.

Figure 1. OncoQuest: Example of the user interface, and graphic representation of a part (EORTC QLQ-C30) of the prospective results of a patient.

Fonds NutsOhra


  • Duman-Lubberding S, van Uden-Kraan CF, Jansen F, Witte BI, Eerenstein SEJ, van Weert S, de Bree R, Leemans CR, Verdonck-de Leeuw IM. Durable usage of patient-reported outcome measures in clinical practice to monitor health-related quality of life in head and neck cancer patients. Support Care Cancer. 2017 Dec;25(12):3775-3783.
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  • Verdonck-de Leeuw IM, de Bree R, Keizer AL, Houffelaar T, Cuijpers P, van der Linden MH, Leemans CR. Computerized prospective screening for high levels of emotional distress in head and neck cancer patients and referral rate to psychosocial care. Oral Oncol. 2009 Oct;45(10):e129-33.
  • de Bree R, Verdonck-de Leeuw IM, Keizer AL, Houffelaar A, Leemans CR. Touch screen computer-assisted health-related quality of life and distress data collection in head and neck cancer patients. Clin Otolaryngol. 2008 Apr;33(2):138-42.

For questions, please contact Prof Irma M. Verdonck-de Leeuw, PhD, projectleader, via [email protected]