Healthcare Analytics, Population Health Management, Healthcare Big Data

Population Health News

mHealth Closing Knowledge Gaps for Chronic Disease Management

By Jennifer Bresnick

- mHealth apps are becoming increasingly important in the fight against diabetes and complex patient engagement requirements of chronic disease management, says a new survey by Telcare, as providers attempt to provide patients with the tools they need to understand, prevent, or help manage the disease

mHealth and chronic disease management

The majority of patients living with diabetes would like to take advantage of healthcare technology to help them manage the disease, including 65 percent of patients who want their providers to place more of an emphasis on mHealth and other health IT when developing a chronic disease management regimen.

The poll of more than 2500 patients found a worrying lack of knowledge about the scope and impact of diabetes on the long-term health of those diagnosed with the disease as well as the financial burden that the condition places on the industry and economy as a whole.  Respondents were generally unaware that the United States spends more than $245 billion on diabetes-related care and disability, underestimating the nation’s spending by nearly $200 billion when asked.

Despite the prevalence of diabetes, fifty-seven percent of participants in the survey were unaware of its potential to cause additional health problems such as heart disease, blindness, and lower limb complications.  Sixty-three percent don’t know the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and were unaware that Type 2 diabetes is generally preventable when patients make healthier lifestyle choices.

“The index clearly shows the striking knowledge gap among both the general public and those living with diabetes, and the serious need for increased public awareness and advocacy for additional funding research," said Andy Flanagan, CEO of Telcare. "What is needed is a different approach to disease management, one that creates meaningful data that medical professionals can use to help provide the level of personalized care consumers demand."

"Diabetes will be greatly impacted by the rise of mobile medical apps, but significant education around the facts of the disease and how technology can help manage it is the first step towards progress,” he added.

mHealth apps that track basic chronic disease management statistics like blood glucose, weight, diet, and exercise, are an attractive tool for patients living with the daily task of monitoring their health.  Trust in these applications is extremely high – higher even than trust in the advice and information from a medical professional

While older patients are somewhat more likely to trust technology when paired with input from their providers, fifty-five percent of younger patients would trust an mHealth app above their doctor’s advice, even though the same number say that they communicate and connect more frequently with their providers when they use a mobile chronic disease management tool. In general, diabetes patients are twice as likely as others to connect with their physicians due to use of an mHealth app.

Eighty-eight percent of patients living with chronic disease want real-time access to data when managing their condition, which puts the onus on providers and developers to create clinical analytics and patient engagement technologies that generate meaningful insights for personalized health management.   As the rate of diabetes and its complications continues to increase, mHealth and other health IT applications may be the difference between successful management of chronic disease and succumbing to the economic and social implications of poorly educated and poorly engaged patients.

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