Web-based mHealth tools can drive patient engagement

Access to online educational content specific to medical issues and Web-based tools that enhance communication between patients and providers can help users gain a deeper understanding of care and boost patient satisfaction, reveals a new Brigham and Women's Hospital study.

The use of an online patient-centered toolkit (PCTK) also facilitates patient involvement and input into the plan of care, states the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

"Doctors and nurses oversee the plan of care, but the patients' goals, priorities and preferences may not always be effectively conveyed to the clinical care team," lead study author Anuj Dalal, and a hospitalist in Brigham and Women's division of general medicine and primary care, said in an announcement. "Decision-making should be shared among patients, families and healthcare providers."

The study aligns with recent research and efforts investigating how consumers view mHealth tools. For instance, a research team featuring physicians from the departments of emergency medicine at Yale School of Medicine and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center recently reported a large number of emergency department patients are embracing smartphones, tablets and apps to assist in their care. Another effort, a wearable monitor pilot launched by the University of Pennsylvania Health System, is aimed at determining how patients and clinicians view mHealth technology.

The Brigham and Women's study provided iPads to patients and caregivers in the intensive and oncology units at the hospital, which enabled them to access online content specific to the patient's condition. The researchers evaluated enrollment strategies, the use and usability of patient tools and the content of patient-generated messages.

The study revealed non-critically ill patients were more inclined to engage with the tools compared to those who were critically ill. The majority of patients who used PCTK features were those helping patients establish goals, access test results and medications and identify care team members.

For more information:
- read the announcement
- here's the abstract