Health IT Tools Are Burdensome for Chronically Ill and Older Patients

To improve the adoption of mobile health tools among the elderly and those with chronic illnesses, developers will need a better understanding of patients' needs and concerns, according to a study published this month in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, FierceMobileHealthcare reports.

Study Details

For the study, researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College and Laval University in Quebec interviewed 22 patients with multiple chronic conditions and seven providers with experience treating such patients about their health data tracking habits (Mottl, FierceMobileHealthcare, 8/22). The patients' average age was 64, and they had an average of 3.5 conditions, such as:

  • Chronic pain;
  • Depression;
  • Heart disease; and
  • Type 2 diabetes.

The researchers noted that multiple chronic conditions disproportionately affect low-income and elderly patients and predicted that such populations would have a more difficult time using health IT tools, such as diet and exercise applications or blood glucose monitoring tools (Ancker et al., JMIR, 8/19).

Study Findings

The study authors identified four themes from the interviews:

  • Patients' health data are not merely perceived as facts, but prompt positive and negative emotions;
  • Patients say physicians often trust their own data, including lab reports, more than patients' self-reported data;
  • Patients track data for many reasons; and
  • Tracking health data is perceived as work for many patients.

The researchers suggested that, to make a "public health impact," new technology should "clearly reduce patient inconvenience and burden" and cut the workload associated with tracking illness data. They noted, "[C]onsumer [health IT] developers should engage creatively with these pragmatic and emotional issues to reach an audience that is broader than technologically sophisticated early adopters" (FierceMobileHealthcare, 8/22).

Source: iHealthBeat, Monday, August 31, 2015
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