Joseph Kvedar: Facebook, texting show benefits of connected health

Connected health holds the potential to improve patient care experiences and, subsequently, quality of life, according to Joseph Kvedar, founder and director of Partners HealthCare's Center for Connected Health in Boston.

To support his point, Kvedar (pictured), in a recent post to The cHealth Blog, outlines two projects currently underway at CCH. In one project, which Kvedar, who also serves on FierceHealthIT's Editorial Advisory Board, describes as "old-fashioned social networking," CCH created a private Facebook group for adolescents suffering from asthma. Creation of the group, Kvedar says, increased use of the Asthma Control Test--which measures a patient's asthma control--from 18 percent to 80 percent.

What's more, he points out, ACT score improvements increased drastically on average for patients in the group compared to average scores for patients who only received new inhalers.

For the second project, CCH measured HbA1c scores for patients with an activity tracker who received automated motivational messages and then compared them to similar average scores for patients who only received the anti-diabetic drug Metformin. The former boasted a larger average drop in HbA1c.

Similarly, the use of text messages has been shown effective for everything from curbing teen binge drinking to helping smokers kick the habit. Additionally, text messaging is proving to be a viable tool in helping Medicaid patients at New York-based Montefiore Medical Center's University Behavioral Associates adhere to a medication regimen, avoid missing doctor appointments and stay on track with healthcare plan goals.

Texting also is helping teenage chronic disease patients to be more efficient in managing their conditions, according to recent research out of the University of California, San Diego.

"[E]ngagement is powerful and engaged patients do better," Kvedar says. "In both cases, those patients who were engaged, measured by either participation in the Facebook group or frequency of opening messages, did even better than the intervention groups, as a whole.

"It suggests a future where connected health programs are widespread, either as adjuncts to or substitutes for chemical therapeutics."

To learn more:
- read Kvedar's post