Posted on 26 Oct 2020
Today, we’re launching our new report that uncovers the evidence behind our digital therapeutics approach to managing immune-mediated inflammatory conditions (IMIDs) such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).
When a person experiences a physical illness, there are implications and effects on their mental health and wellbeing. When considering the treatment of any condition, it is crucial to create management strategies that consider individual’s from a holistic, person-centered, perspective including a focus on mental wellbeing – rather than exclusively focusing on physical symptoms.
Similarly, the importance of behavioural science and behaviour change in supporting IMIDs is not a new concept, but it can often be challenging for clinicians to effectively implement these approaches into management plans. IMIDs are characterised by periods of remission and flare. Any support to help patients self-manage their condition outside of routine care is likely to have positive implications on their health and wellbeing. However, in addition to the well-recognised existing burdens on the NHS, the lack of support to encourage patients to self-manage their condition is also in large part due to the infrastructure of the NHS health system.
People living with IMIDs who are under regular clinical care, only have minimal and fleeting contact with the doctor and team responsible for their disease management. Healthcare interactions generally only coincide with times of medical need by coincidence, as they are usually scheduled according to availability rather than fluctuations in a person’s experience of their condition. It is more a case of when the doctor can see a patient, rather than when the patient needs to see a doctor.
The short time duration of the appointments often means that discussions are centred around current symptoms or test results, rather than understanding the holistic day-to-day needs of the person, or the impact their condition has on their daily life.
As a consequence, these circumstances create a perfect storm for those trying to achieve optimal quality of life alongside their long term condition. People with IMIDs are especially vulnerable to compromised health and wellbeing. Crohn’s & Colitis UK recently found that 47% people surveyed with IBD reported that their condition impacts their mental health and 45% of total respondents were unhappy with the psychological and emotional support they received. When reviewing services, it was found that only 53% are able to make referrals for psychological support, signaling a huge unmet need for people living with IBD.
Now with the COVID-19 pandemic, not only is there lack of mental wellbeing support, people with IMIDs are feeling the strain on their mental health more than ever. Our own research found that 53% of people who had IBD reported feeling anxious or on edge during May 2020, the peak of the coronavirus lockdown.
With an overstretched health system and the additional stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has never been a better time to explore and integrate evidence-based technology solutions that have the potential to improve clinician-patient interactions and enable better access to new management approaches that still continue to compliment existing processes.
Ampersand Health exists to promote the health and happiness of patients with long term conditions through over-the-counter digital therapeutics – we’re here to be part of the solution.
We have formulated a unique approach to the development of Digital Behaviour Change Interventions (DCBIs) for those living with IMIDs, promoting self-management behaviours that evidence has shown to improve quality of life and control over the disease. We use an approach that facilitates evidence-based intervention development, enabling us to identify specific evidence-based techniques that directly address barriers, known as the Behaviour Change Wheel approach.
Professor Susan Michie, developer of the Behaviour Change Wheel approach and Professor of Health Psychology & Director of Centre for Behaviour Change, UCL, UK has said, “I am delighted to see the Behaviour Change Wheel being used to develop digital behaviour change interventions for those living with long term conditions. The translation of behaviour change evidence and theory into the design of such interventions is what can help us work towards more positive health and wellbeing outcomes for those with life-long inflammatory conditions.”
The Unified Approach to Digital Behaviour Change Interventions (for IMIDs), developed by Ampersand Health, enables intervention designers to combine best practices from both Behavioural Science and User Experience Design, to promote engagement with self-management behaviours, as well as the digital interface itself.
Read the full report to find out more about how our development of Digital Behaviour Change Interventions (DBCI) for our My IBD Care and My Arthritis apps are playing an important role in supporting people with inflammatory conditions, to live life to the full.