Background: Web-based applications have the potential to support the ongoing care needs of patients with chronic disease. At the University of Washington, a diabetes care module was developed, and the feasibility of allowing patients with type 2 diabetes to comanage their disease from home was pilot tested.
Methods: The disease management module consisted of five Web sites that enabled patients to access their electronic medical records; upload blood glucose readings; enter medication, nutrition, and exercise data into an online diary; communicate with providers by using clinical e-mail; and browse an education site with endorsed content. All data could be viewed by patients and providers in online trended displays that a nurse practitioner case manager used to review cases weekly.
Results: "Proof-of-concept" was demonstrated by the three pilot participants who were the module's most active users. For example, one newly diagnosed patient was started on an oral hypoglycemic, underwent two upward dose adjustments, and achieved control (glycohemoglobin [HbA1c] from 8.0% to 6.1%). His treatment was conducted by exchanging 14 e-mails based on the 231 glucose-meter readings sent from home without requiring in-person follow-up visits.
Conclusions: The Internet offers the opportunity to involve patients and providers in collaborative management of chronic diseases between office visits.