Consumer Peripherals

Technology Can Help Patients with Chronic Illnesses Take Control of Their Own Healthcare

30 March 2018

Researchers at Washington State University have found that using technology to track health can help patients manage their own health with ease. Chronic diseases, like diabetes, are constantly on the rise and according to the Centers for Disease Control, chronic diseases are the most costly health problems in the United States.

Medical devices, apps and other technological health trackers have so far allowed patients to manage their conditions and track their health, but there is still a lot to be learned and studied about how personal values are helped or harmed by technology.

Interplay of the technologies participants, patients' values, information and activities involved in self-management. (Source: Washington State University)Interplay of the technologies participants, patients' values, information and activities involved in self-management. (Source: Washington State University)

"Chronic disease patients are in high need of technology systems that will more effectively help them deal with intrusive health problems," said researcher Majid Dadgar, a recent WSU graduate and assistant professor at the University Of San Francisco School Of Management.

Healthcare technology is the most accessible it has ever been and it is becoming cheaper with every new technological breakthrough. This technology is key to saving patients money by allowing them to track their own health, eliminating unnecessary trips to the doctor.

The researchers analyzed data that was collected from patients using an app called “Glucose Buddy.” The participants used the app for a week to keep diaries of their health and report their experiences.

The study proved that there are 12 values for health technology that are important to patients who have diabetes: accessibility, accountability, autonomy, compliance, dignity, empathy, feedback, hope, joy, privacy, sense-making and trust.

A lot of healthcare technology is key to patients being more independent and in control of their health. A phone-based diary type of app allows patients to input any information that relates to their diabetes, and they can self-manage their glucose levels. They have the ability to customize their routines to what works best for them. Web-based apps can also provide patients with immediate connection to nurses and doctors who can answer any questions that they may have.

Data connectivity, analysis, retrieval and storage were important to patients because they allow the patients to manage their own treatment and keep track of how their health is doing. These are important because they provide both patients and doctors with real-time information about their health. A complete and automated food database is another feature that makes choosing the best and healthiest foods through the day.

This study shows that the research of this study proves that self-management through technologies encourages patients to take control of their own healthcare while providing doctors with even more information than a simple doctor’s visit can provide. The researchers say that healthcare providers should push their patients to use technology to track their health.

"Our research aims to advance understanding of the complexity of self-management of chronic diseases," said Dadgar. "Self-management involves a network of components. Ideally, any suggested self-management system should consider the all these components and, most importantly, be attentive to patients' values.”

The paper on this research was published in the Journal of the Association for Information Systems.

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