A new plan to help prostate cancer survivors cope with often devastating side-effects is being piloted thanks to a research partnership between the University of Southern Queensland and West Moreton Health.
The organisations renewed their official collaboration this month, with the University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Geraldine Mackenzie and West Moreton Health chief executive Dr Kerrie Freeman pledging to continue their joint research efforts.
They also officially launched the ‘West Moreton Health Prostate Cancer Survivorship’ program, an online platform to deliver care, real-time condition monitoring, and virtual at-home appointments with a clinical nurse.
Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said that Ipswich is the right place for innovation in healthcare, with local demand for social services set to grow significantly over the next 20 years.
“Our researchers are leading advancements in healthcare through projects such as the West Moreton Health Prostate Cancer Survivorship program,” Mayor Harding said.
“It’s great to see two of our city’s most prominent organisations – West Moreton Health and the University of Southern Queensland – working together to better Ipswich and beyond.
“With our population set to grow by 330,000 and employment in the health sector in Ipswich to increase by 235 per cent to 2041, every opportunity to improve access to healthcare will be welcomed by our residents.”
“That means more jobs, a diverse economy, healthier community and more opportunities for innovative healthcare approaches like this one.”
The new research links West Moreton Health’s existing virtual platform with intervention research undertaken by Professor Jeff Dunn AO from the USQ Centre for Health Research, who is also a West Moreton Hospital and Health Board member.
“Prostate cancer is a major challenge for the health and wellbeing of Australian males with nearly 230,000 survivors nationwide,” Professor Dunn said.
“Survival rates have never been better, yet so many struggle in the wake of successful treatment – one in five impacted will experience anxiety and depression.
“Improving access to clinical and psychosocial care is key to reducing the burden of prostate cancer on survivors and the greater community.
“Our team has already developed an evidence-based intervention framework using materials suitable for development into an online environment. That’s where West Moreton Health comes in.”
Post-surgical patients will be recruited to test the program, which will remotely gauge their physical recovery and distress levels via a tablet computer.
“It’s about keeping them out of hospital and safe and supported at home, where they will be encouraged to be active in their treatment plans,” Professor Dunn said.
Dr Kerrie Freeman said virtual health did not remove people and people-connections from the care experience.
“At West Moreton Health we are using technology to provide more connections, and improved experiences, to groups of people in ways that better suit their needs,” she said.
“We are proud to lead virtual programs that are new to Queensland. By partnering with USQ to investigate how existing technology can be used to deliver a prostate survivorship program, we are at the brink of a potential great transformation of how men with prostate cancer are cared for.”
Professor Dunn is the CEO of the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. He also serves on the Board of the International Union for Cancer Control and is an Honorary Life President of the Asia Pacific Organisation for Cancer Prevention.