Automated Voice Response System for Management of Cancer Patient Symptoms




Cancer patients have numerous symptoms, both from the cancer itself and from the side effects of its treatments. Since many cancer treatments are delivered as outpatient procedures or via oral medicines, cancer patients and their caregivers often are dealing with symptoms from treatment and/or disease progression at home. They have significant needs for information regarding diagnosis and treatment, help with symptom management, assistance with communication and coordination of care, and support for surveillance and prevention of further problems.


Uncontrolled symptoms can delay cancer treatment, result in additional doctor or ER visits, and contribute to days lost from work. Active monitoring can allow patients and their caregivers to identify and address symptoms earlier and at a time when intervention can resolve or control symptoms, thereby avoiding treatment delays.


Description of Technology


Michigan State University’s Automated Voice Response (AVR) System provides a series of questions administered via an automated calling system to assess symptom severity and impact on daily activities. The system calls patients at defined intervals between scheduled clinic visits to assess their symptoms. Based on responses to the questions, callers are referred to the Symptom Management Toolkit (030090) for strategies to reduce or resolve their symptoms.


Key Benefits

  • Companion products: In addition to the automated voice response (AVR) system, books for cancer patients (030090) and their caregivers (100041) have been developed.
  • Multiple delivery methods: The AVR could be developed into a website or smartphone application.
  • Improved patient outcomes: Clinical trials have shown positive results in terms of the overall well being of cancer patients. The active monitoring of the AVR increases adherence to the treatment protocol, which in turn increases the treatment’s rate of success. Patients in the studies reported statistically significant improvement in symptom severity and number of overall symptoms.
  • Reduces monitoring costs: In a randomized clinical study, the AVR system was compared with symptom management provided by a licensed oncology nurse. The AVR system performed equally well but for approximately one-quarter of the cost.




The AVR and toolkits (030090 and 100041) have applications for medical offices, clinical trial companies, pharmaceutical companies, and insurance companies and HMOs.


Patent Status


Patent pending




Cindy Majeske, Barbara Given, Charles Given


Tech ID




Patent Information:


For Information, Contact:

Kari Haldenwanger
Deceased, Technology Manager
Michigan State University