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5 online interventions to improve patient health and wellness

Senior Director, Social Media

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A recent story in FierceHealthIT looks at five different studies and how they show online interventions helping patients’ health. These interventions range from mobile apps to SMS to websites, but they all use online technologies.

Getting MS patients walking more

A study reported June 1 in MedPage Today showed how online interventions improved MS patients’ quality of life. The primary goal of this study was to increase walking, which the online information website and coaching did, they got daily steps from 4,000 to 5,500, but there were other benefits too:

The study was conducted by Lara Pilutti, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Pilutti was quoted saying that

The program was relatively inexpensive compared with others designed to promote exercise in MS patients, largely because it required little staff time. She noted that the coaching did not require involvement by highly trained professionals; in some cases, it was provided by undergraduate students.

Keeping blood pressure under control

In this study, 618 participants with high blood pressure were divided into three groups:

The study followed up one year after the initial program. The trained and coached groups had “significantly higher” adherence according to the study. This shows that the effects of online interventions can last much longer than the initial engagement.

Monitoring newborns

This study showed how online education can reduce issues for newborns.

The “Babies at home” site had three components: a free-access area with information about baby care and breastfeeding; a parents’ area, where, after authentication, they were asked to submit a questionnaire twice a week about the baby’s condition. This area also allowed them to exchange email with nurses to ask questions. In the third area, physicians and nurses could see the parents’ answers on the questionnaires, shown in dynamic Flash charts, and to send comments and advice directly to parents

After one month, 94.4 percent of the patients who received an Internet-based follow-up (85 of 90) had no ED visits, compared with 84.2 percent of patients in the control group (96 of 114).

Managing chronic pain

This study used smartphones to give patients with chronic pain the ability to create journals with therapist feedback after a chronic pain rehabilitation program.

Of the 140 participants in the study, 112 completed the study with 48 in the intervention group and 64 in the control group. Overall, the intervention group reported less catastrophizing than the control group, and for a five-month follow-up between-group, effect sizes remained moderate for catastrophizing, acceptance of pain, and functioning and symptom levels

Encouraging teens to make healthier choices

This meta-study looked at digital intervensions for teens. Not surprisingly, the results were pretty positive:

17 studies reported at least one statistically significant effect on behavior change outcomes, including consuming more fruits, juices, or vegetables consumption; increasing physical activity; managing asthma; self-management; learning street and fire safety skills and practicing sexual abstinence

So, if you’re looking for evidence that digital interventions can provide meaningful, sustained, results follow up with these studies.

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Brad Einarsen

Brad is Klick's Senior Director leading the social practice. His group ensures that clients get the best bang for their buck on the social platforms.

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