5 online interventions to improve patient health and wellness

Medical care is increasingly moving online as the number of health-related sites, apps and remote technologies proliferate. From improving medication adherence to monitoring the health of newborn babies, here are five ways the Internet is helping people manage their health for a variety of conditions:

  1. Getting MS patients walking more. The latest is an internet behavioral intervention that has been proved to help patients with multiple sclerosis increases their daily amount of walking. A trial presented to MedPage Today showed that a simple Internet behavior intervention boosted average daily step counts from 4,000 at baseline to almost 5,500 at its close, according to researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Patients' scores on measures of depression, anxiety, fatigue, and physical ability also improved.
  2. Keeping blood pressure under control. Web-based pharmacist care has proven effective in helping hypertensive patients sustain low blood pressure, according to research published in JAMA Internal Medicine in late May. In the trial, 618 patients were divided into three groups: a group receiving usual care; a group receiving home BP monitoring and website training; and a group receiving home BP monitoring, website training and additional pharmacist care on the website. All but the control group recorded lower blood pressure measurements.
  3. Monitoring newborns. In February, research from Spain published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found a cost benefit in applying telemedicine and an online intervention to monitor low-risk newborns in their first month of life. After one month, 94.4 percent of the patients who received an Internet-based follow-up (85 of 90) had no ED visits, compared with 84.2 percent of patients in the control group (96 of 114). The site had three components: information about baby care, a questionnaire section for parents, and a place to email nurses.
  4. Managing chronic pain. Your computer isn't the only place for a healthcare intervention--web-based programs delivered on smartphones support self-management for chronic pain in women, another study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found. In a trial of 140 women, the group who had a smartphone intervention after rehabilitation for chronic pain reported less catastrophizing of pain than the control group.
  5. Encouraging teens to make healthier choices. It's no surprise that smartphone health interventions work well for teens, too--in JAMA Pediatrics, a study assessed the effects of electronic media-based interventions on health and safety behavior change among teens. According to the authors, 17 studies reported at least one statistically significant effect on behavior change outcomes, including consuming more fruits, juices, or vegetables consumption; increasing physical activity; managing asthma; self-management; learning street and fire safety skills and practicing sexual abstinence.

To learn more:
- read the article about online interventions for MS in MedPage Today

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