Smartphone App Could Solve Pressing Rheumatology Need

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The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) estimates that by 2030 there will be only half the rheumatologists needed to provide specialized care to adults with complex, chronic inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Could your smartphone offer a simple solution to this workforce challenge?

Daniel H. Solomon, MD, MPH, a rheumatologist and researcher with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues have spent the past five years developing cutting-edge technology to improve RA patient care at their busy urban clinic.

This includes a voice-enabled smartphone app that helps educate people with RA about their disease.

With funding from the Rheumatology Research Foundation’s Innovative Research Award, Dr. Solomon and his team will now upgrade and test the app to see whether it can help improve patient appointment timeliness and mitigate the heavy volume of routine clinic visits.

The app includes a simple set of questions and answers that educate RA patients about their disease. Dr. Solomon and his team will now enhance the app and integrate it into their clinic’s electronic health record (EHR) system. The app also connects each patient to a personal EHR page that tracks appointments, symptoms, medications, test results, and disease activity levels.

In early focus-group testing, patients were enthusiastic about the app’s features.

The researchers will now conduct a clinical trial to evaluate whether the app improves patient visit timeliness. If the clinical trial’s results are successful in RA patients, the app could be expanded for use by patients with other rheumatic diseases.



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