A diagnosis of a long-term, chronic condition such as IBD or arthritis can have a great impact on one’s life, both mentally and physically. Although the physical symptoms of these conditions are at the forefront of one’s treatment plan, the mental and emotional implications that life with a chronic illness can have can be just as impactful, if not more so.
This article will introduce the subject of isolation in chronic diseases, some research that has been done on the topic thus far, and how mobile health apps play a role in improving the patient experience.
The Impact of COVID-19
When Coronavirus emerged, the world very quickly turned digital. All of our appointments, schooling, meetings and interactions started to take place through our devices, in an attempt to contain the virus and keep people safe.
The chronic illness community was impacted heavily by COVID, as many of them are immunocompromised and therefore more susceptible to facing worse symptoms than the general public. This meant that the rules around isolation and social distancing were enforced quite strongly on them. This led a lot of people to become more and more isolated, all of while many suffered from their symptoms, often in severe flares, without easy access to their healthcare teams. The chronic illness community as a whole can often be overlooked, as their conditions are seen as life-long, and often their experiences are underrepresented despite how impactful their symptoms can be on one’s mental and physical health.
It was during this time that mobile health apps became increasingly popular. COVID highlighted the importance of being able to receive healthcare and be monitored even when one cannot go into their clinic to be seen.
Research on Telehealth for Chronic Diseases
One article titled, “Telehealth for Noncritical Patients With Chronic Diseases During the COVID-19 Pandemic” (2020) explored how telehealth services such as remote monitoring has helped improved anxiety and confidence levels in patients managing their long-term condition, and how they have also decreased the need for unnecessary appointments. This article focused on services during the peak of the COVID pandemic, however its findings were described as being applicable beyond the pandemic.
It is suggested in the article that copresence, which is essentially the feeling/perception that the other party is present, should be at the core of telehealth practices. This idea of copresence helps patients feel like their clinicians are present when they are using digital tools to help manage their health, and it also provides the same sense for their clinicians. This is a motivating factor of telehealth and things like remote monitoring, as it reduces the isolation fear of not seeing someone face-to-face, especially when speaking about sensitive/personal topics surrounding one’s health.
The Role of Ampersand Health
Both our My IBD Care and My Arthritis apps help patients as they are remotely monitored by their clinical teams, if their hospital is signed up with the app. This provides them with a better sense of security around their care, as they know that their clinicians will be able to see their data and intervene if need be. The need for remote monitoring may have become more obvious during the peak of the COVID pandemic, however, its purpose goes beyond it. Without a pandemic controlling health systems and their capabilities, the benefits of remote monitoring remains the same. The consistent use of our apps allow patients to feel more confident in managing their condition, and provides their clinicians more free time to bring patients in when they need it the most.
Continue to read about this topic by visiting the links below…
Liu, N., Huang, R., Baldacchino, T., Sud, A., Sud, K., Khadra, M., & Kim, J. (2020). Telehealth for Noncritical Patients With Chronic Diseases During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of medical Internet research, 22(8), e19493. https://doi.org/10.2196/19493