Patient Adherence and Retention Programs – Health 2.0 and adherence

November 14, 2009

Olivier LAURENT

Olivier LAURENT - CEO Coligane group

Health 2.0 and adherence

The improvements in the field of information technology has brought with a number of benefits. One of the aspects is improved communication. People are now able to communicate with each other more frequently and are able to exchange a variety of information. The ability to contribute to the websites and raise queries regarding various aspects has helped the healthcare field a lot. The introduction of concept of Health 2.0 has revolutionized the healthcare field. The developments in this field have helped patients to adhere to the advised treatments.

Role of patient communities

The core feature of Health 2.0 is the ability of the patients to form online social networks and seek and share health information. There are several websites that provide information about various aspects of disorders such as the causes, diagnosis, treatment options, and complications. Such information helps the patients to understand the disease process and comply with the treatment. Online patient communities have become common joints to discuss about the treatments and the benefits of treatments. Individuals are now able to discuss more freely about the disorders and clear their doubts about various aspects of the treatment from other individuals who themselves are taking similar medications. There are several communities that specifically discuss in detail about one particular disorder such as diabetes, heart disorders, etc. Such communities induce a positive look towards the outcome of treatments and encourage patients to continue with the treatment protocols.1

Better interaction, better adherence

As stated earlier more than half of the patients forget the instructions about their prescriptions. With the introduction of concepts such as Health 2.0 patients can now consult with their physicians online and obtain additional information about their treatment and also plan future appointments. Repeated instructions about the prescription drugs help the patients to remember the dosages and frequency of their medications. Patients can also set reminders on their personal computers or interactive mobiles to remind them about the medication.

It is also possible for doctors to monitor the progress of their patients online with several tools available. One such study which studied web based diabetes management reported that there was a significant improvement in the blood glucose levels in patients who followed this program. Further, the study also reported that such online programs saved time and cost of treatment.2

Interactive methods

There are several methods through with Health 2.0 is improving patient adherence and retention programs. One of the commonest is the use of online monitoring systems such as internet-based glucose monitoring system (IBGMS) wherein the patients enter their blood sugar values at the comfort of their home and avail automatic responses regarding the improvements or contact a healthcare provider based on the values obtained.3

Several hospitals have made the information chart available online so that the patients can download them, fill it up at home and bring it along while coming for consultation. This saves the time spent in the consultation area. Patients are also able to book an appointment online which is of great use in patients who need repeated visits.

OLDES (older people’s e-services at home) is software that targets elderly population who are not able to visit their physicians on a regular basis for consultation purposes. The users of this program can enter values about their blood sugar levels, blood pressure measurements and food intake and obtain an instant review of their condition. It was noted to be quite effective wherein the patients adhered to the treatment procedures.4

There are several other similar applications that are being introduced in the recent decade. With more and more people becoming internet savvy, the amount of internet use is on the rise. This has eased the provision of healthcare and improved patient adherence and retention programs.

Concerns with Health 2.0

While the number of users who are going online is on the rise, a substantial number of people still do not have access to a computer or internet. This has limited the popularity of applications such as Health 2.0. Further constraints are noted relating to the age of the individuals, lack of computer knowledge, illiteracy and negligence towards newer technologies. These are some of the factors that restrict the use of Health 2.0 to improve patient adherence.

Nevertheless, Health 2.0 has been proven to be an effective tool in improving the patient adherence and retention programs in this fast paced world that is going on to the next level of communication. A number of other interactive programs are being developed that would take the healthcare to higher levels which would not only reduce the cost of healthcare but also reduce the number of deaths related non-adherence or other causes.

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References

  1. Bleicher P. Health 2.0: Do It Yourself Doctoring. [updated: Oct 2008; accessed: Nov 2009]. Available at: http://appliedclinicaltrialsonline.findpharma.com/appliedclinicaltrials/Technology+Viewpoint/Health-20-Do-It-Yourself-Doctoring/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/556205?contextCategoryId=554
  2. Azar M, Gabbay R. Web-based management of diabetes through glucose uploads: has the time come for telemedicine? Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2009 Jan;83(1):9-17. Epub 2008 Dec 3.
  3. Cho JH, Lee HC, Lim DJ, Kwon HS, Yoon KH. Mobile communication using a mobile phone with a glucometer for glucose control in Type 2 patients with diabetes: as effective as an Internet-based glucose monitoring system. J Telemed Telecare. 2009;15(2):77-82.
  4. Novak D, Stepankova O, Mraz M, Haluzik M, Bussoli M, Uller M, Maly K, Novakova L, Novak P. OLDES: new solution for long-term diabetes compensation management. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2008; 2008:4346-9.
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