Smartphone System Can Improve Chronic Disease Treatment

Patients can receive real-time personalized feedback, while providers receive alerts when treatment thresholds are crossed or changes are made.

In this advanced age of technology when having a cellphone is the norm, a new study found that smartphone-based technology could improve patient health by allowing them to work collaboratively with clinicians.

A 6-month study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN) analyzed technology in health care among 47 patients with chronic kidney disease.

The study sought to examine the potential of a smartphone-based system that enables patients to monitor their blood pressure, assess their symptoms, maintain an accurate and up-to-date medication list, and view important laboratory test results.

Patients received real-time personalized feedback, while providers received alerts when treatment thresholds were crossed or key changes were made. About 60% of patients in the study had never even used a smartphone.

The results of the study showed that, on average, in-home blood pressure readings decreased significantly over the course of the 6-month study (systolic, -3.4 mmHg; diastolic, -2.1 mmHg).

Of the patients with normal clinical blood pressure readings, 27% had newly identified masked hypertension. In regards to medication discrepancies, 127 were identified, with 59% requiring an intervention to prevent harm.

At the close of the study, patients reported an increased feeling of confidence and control of their condition, while clinicians felt that patients seemed to be more engaged and better informed.

“We were able to help patients monitor blood pressure, symptoms, and medications by enhancing and bolstering patient autonomy and confidence through immediate messages giving customized, patient-specific feedback,” said researcher Alexander Logan, MD, FRCP. “Unlike other mobile applications, we believe this is the only mobile application for outpatient use, which offers patient-driven care in a supportive, customized environment.”

Despite the promising results, investigators stressed that more research needs to be done to confirm the findings using a control group over a longer period of time.

“Although their investigation is a proof-of-principle study, their results highlight broader considerations when integrating smartphone technology with health care,” the study authors wrote.