Web-based platform for kidney disease patients can be useful

A web-based platform designed to improve patient safety in chronic kidney disease can be useful and effective, according to a new study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research

Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the Veterans Affairs Maryland Health Care System and the Baylor Health Care Quality Institute for Health Care Research and Improvement set out to evaluate use of a website that provides disease-specific safety information by patients with predialysis chronic kidney diseases.

Study participants were provided a medical alert accessory with a unique ID number, the Safe Kidney Care website, and an in-person tutorial on the use of the Internet and accessing the SKC website at baseline. Participants visited the website and entered their unique ID as frequently as they desired over the next 365 days, or until their annual follow-up visit--whichever occurred first.

Of 108 participants, 28.7 percent visited the website from one to six times during the observation period, at about 13 minutes on the website per person, seven minutes per visit. The three most frequently visited pages provided information on pills to avoid and foods to avoid, as well as a "Renal function calculator." Education level, as well as frequency with using the Internet were significant factors associated with website use.

"Adults in the United States living with chronic disease are significantly less likely than healthy adults to have access to the Internet, but once online, those with chronic disease are more likely to use social media and online tools to share information and obtain support from their peers," study authors wrote. "Individuals with chronic disease still report an overwhelming preference to receive health-related education and advice from a professional source such as a health care provider, which emphasizes the role of the Internet as an accessory to, rather than a replacement for, quality provider-patient interactions."

A July study published in JMIR found that patients are enthusiastic about using online portals to manage their medications, but concluded that more features and functionality are necessary to maximize medication management and adherence. Earlier that month, another JMIR study found that patients who use the Internet more frequently are more likely to embrace patient-centered healthcare efforts and participate in their own care.

To learn more:
- read the study in JMIR

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