An eHealth Intervention for Patients in Rural Areas: Preliminary Findings From a Pilot Feasibility Study
Newman, Lareen Ann
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Background: eHealth facilitation of chronic disease management has potential to increase engagement and effectiveness and extend access to care in rural areas. Objective: The objective of this study was to demonstrate the feasibility and acceptability of an eHealth system for the management of chronic conditions in a rural setting. Methods: We developed an online management program which incorporated content from the Flinders Chronic Condition Management Program (Flinders Program) and used an existing software platform (goACT), which is accessible by patients and health care workers using either Web-enabled mobile phone or Internet, enabling communication between patients and clinicians. We analyzed the impact of this eHealth system using qualitative and simple quantitative methods. Results: The eHealth system was piloted with 8 recently hospitalized patients from rural areas, average age 63 (SD 9) years, each with an average of 5 chronic conditions and high level of psychological distress with an average K10 score of 32.20 (SD 5.81). Study participants interacted with the eHealth system. The average number of logins to the eHealth system by the study participants was 26.4 (SD 23.5) over 29 weeks. The login activity was higher early in the week. Conclusions: The pilot demonstrated the feasibility of implementing and delivering a chronic disease management program using a Web-based patient-clinician application. A qualitative analysis revealed burden of illness and low levels of information technology literacy as barriers to patient engagement.
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