Using Technology to Manage Health

Mobile devices, such as laptops and phones, can be used effectively to manage chronic illnesses. Barriers to the adoption of health-related technologies can be overcome using several techniques in a combined fashion.

Citation

Archer, N., Keshavjee, K., Demers, C., & Lee, R. (2014). Online self-management interventions for chronically ill patients: cognitive impairment and technology issues. International journal of medical informatics, 83(4), 264-272.

What is this research about?

Chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and asthma, require treatment over long periods of time and the number of people who suffer from a chronic illness is increasing worldwide. This increase in chronic illness can create a burden on health care systems due to the high costs of treatment. Online self-management interventions are a promising method that can help reduce healthcare costs by encouraging patients to be proactive in managing their own conditions. Online self-management interventions consist of a variety of tools that aid patients in monitoring their conditions and setting goals to improve their health. This research provides an overview of the benefits of online self-management interventions and the potential issues that can slow the adoption of these programs. In addition, this research documents the relationship between chronic illness and mild cognitive impairment. 

What did the researchers do?

The researchers consider the feasibility and effectiveness of providing self-management interventions online through different forms of technology such as laptops or mobile phones. In addition, the researchers review literature that documents the association of mild cognitive impairment with certain chronic illnesses. Published studies from several electronic databases were searched using the keywords “systematic review” and “cognitive impairment”. The challenges that mild cognitive impairment presents for online self-management are considered, and several solutions are proposed to help overcome these challenges.

What did the researchers find?

The literature review found eleven papers that each showed a significant relationship between a form of chronic illness and an aspect of mild cognitive impairment. People with mild cognitive impairment often have a decreased ability to use technology. This indicates that for many patients with chronic illness, online self-management may be very difficult to use effectively. Another challenge in providing online self-management support is that many older adults do not believe that health-related technology can help improve their quality of life. The authors suggest several strategies to overcome these barriers to the adoption of online self-management support.

  • Online support should be provided for caregivers and patients, especially in cases where the caregiver is much younger than the patient and has a greater familiarity with technology
  • Websites should have a user-friendly design to help reduce confusion for patients with mild cognitive impairment.
  • Smart home technologies, such as fall sensors and smoke detectors, can be used to help patients who are less able to manage their own health care.

How can you use this research?

Providers of online self-management health programs can use this research to enhance the delivery of their programs. In addition, different forms of health-related technologies may be able to use the techniques discussed in the paper in order to improve accessibility for individuals with cognitive difficulties. This research may also be of interest to individuals with a chronic illness who would like to learn more online disease self-management. 

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