CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 · Appl Clin Inform 2022; 13(05): 1092-1099
DOI: 10.1055/s-0042-1758223
Research Article

How a Digital Case Management Platform Affects Community-Based Palliative Care of Sub-Saharan African Cancer Patients: Clinician-Users' Perspectives

Yun Xian Ho
1   Dimagi, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Robert S. Morse
2   DaVinci Usability, Inc., Lexington, Massachusetts, United States
Kaley Lambden
1   Dimagi, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Beatrice P. Mushi
3   Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Mamsau Ngoma
4   Ocean Road Cancer Institute, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Habiba Mahuna
4   Ocean Road Cancer Institute, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Twalib Ngoma
3   Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
4   Ocean Road Cancer Institute, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Susan Miesfeldt
5   Maine Medical Center, Portland, Maine, United States
› Author Affiliations
Funding This work was supported by the Fogarty International Center (R21TW010190).


Background Symptom control among cancer patients is a Tanzanian public health priority impacted by limited access to palliative care (PC) specialists and resources. Mobile Palliative Care Link (mPCL), a mobile/web application, aims to extend specialist access via shared care with local health workers (LHWs) with the African Palliative care Outcome Scale (POS) adapted for regular, automated symptom assessment as a core feature.

Objective The aim of the study is to assess clinicians' attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions regarding mPCL usability and utility with their patients within a government-supported, urban Tanzanian cancer hospital setting.

Methods We used a mixed methods approach including surveys, qualitative interviews, and system usage data to assess clinicians' experience with mPCL in a field study where discharged, untreatable cancer patients were randomized to mPCL or phone-contact POS collection.

Results All six specialists and 10 LHWs expressed overall satisfaction with mPCL among 49 intervention arm patients. They perceived mPCL as a way to stay connected with patients and support remote symptom control. Timely access to POS responses and medical records were identified as key benefits. Some differences in perceptions of mPCL use and utility were seen between clinician groups; however, both expressed strong interest in continuing app use, recommending it to colleagues, and extending use throughout Tanzania. Primary use was for clinical status communication and care coordination. Pain and other symptom progression were the most frequently reported reasons for provider–patient interactions accounting for 34% (n = 44) and 12% (n = 15) of reasons, respectively. Usage barriers included time required to create a new clinical record, perceived need for response to non-urgent reminders or alerts, and training. necessary for competent use. System-level implementation barriers included variable patient access to smartphones and SIM cards and unreliable Internet access.

Conclusion This work demonstrates broad clinician desire for digital health tools to support remote community-based PC among cancer patients, particularly pain management.

Protection of Human and Animal Subjects

All study activities were approved by the MUHAS Institutional Review Board. Informed consent was required and obtained from all study participants.

Supplementary Material

Publication History

Received: 11 May 2022

Accepted: 16 September 2022

Article published online:
16 November 2022

© 2022. The Author(s). This is an open access article published by Thieme under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonDerivative-NonCommercial License, permitting copying and reproduction so long as the original work is given appropriate credit. Contents may not be used for commercial purposes, or adapted, remixed, transformed or built upon. (

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