Care partners boost outcomes for heart failure patients using mHealth intervention

Expanding the reach of mobile health tools to include care partners of patients suffering from chronic heart failure may help to boost adherence to medication and lower shortness of breath instances, according to a new study.

Researchers of the report, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, examined the of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' CarePartner program to see how an mHealth tool that includes a patient's care partner would differ in health outcomes compared to a standard mHealth program.

In the control group with the standard mHealth intervention, patients received IVR monitoring and support calls for one year, with up to nine call attempts each week. The calls addressed patients' overall health, heart failure symptoms and self-management behaviors, according to the study.

In the caregiver involved group, patients also received monitoring calls, but care partners--who often were sons or daughters--were then sent a report with details of the conversation. The care partners then were asked to contact the patient to review and talk about the reports.

The researchers found that most patients whose caregivers were involved spoke with them at least twice a week.

The rates of completion for IVR were the same for both groups and there were no differences at either six or 12 months in HF quality of life scores, the researchers found. However, the patients whose care partners were involved were 8.8 percent more likely to report taking medication exactly as prescribed and were also less likely to experience shortness of breath, the study's authors found.

"If these risk factors can be effectively addressed via mHealth services such as this one that focus on increasing caregiver support instead of the use of costly medical services, it would represent a major advance," the authors said.

Mobile tools are being used to not only help patients and their care partners communicate--like in this study--but also to foster a greater connection between patients and their physicians.

A new mobile platform tool at Salina Regional Health Center in Kansas shores up patient-healthcare provider communications and enhance its electronic health record system by providing patients with more tools for deeper engagement in healthcare issues and decision-making.

In addition, for pediatric care, engaging parents is imperative, that has caused and Miami Children's Hospital to tap mHealth to help with patient discharge--the app allows parents to view discharge instructions and video on their phone.

To learn more:
- check out the study