How Can eHealth Technology Address Challenges Related to Multimorbidity? Perspectives from Patients with Multiple Chronic Conditions

J Gen Intern Med. 2015 Aug;30(8):1063-70. doi: 10.1007/s11606-015-3222-9. Epub 2015 Feb 18.

Abstract

Background: Patient eHealth technology offers potential support for disease self-management, but the value of existing applications for patients with multiple chronic conditions (MCCs) is unclear.

Objectives: To understand self-management and health care navigation challenges that patients face due to MCCs and to identify opportunities to support these patients through new and enhanced eHealth technology.

Design: After administering a screening survey, we conducted 10 focus groups of 3-8 patients grouped by age, sex, and common chronic conditions. Patients discussed challenges associated with having MCCs and their use of (and desires from) technology to support self-management. Three investigators used standard content analysis methods to code the focus group transcripts. Emergent themes were reviewed with all collaborators, and final themes and representative quotes were validated with a sample of participants.

Participants: Fifty-three individuals with ≥3 chronic conditions and experience using technology for health-related purposes.

Key results: Focus group participants had an average of five chronic conditions. Participants reported using technology most frequently to search for health information (96%), communicate with health care providers (92%), track medical information (83%), track medications (77%), and support decision-making about treatment (55%). Three themes emerged to guide eHealth technology development: (1) Patients with MCCs manage a high volume of information, visits, and self-care tasks; (2) they need to coordinate, synthesize, and reconcile health information from multiple providers and about different conditions; (3) their unique position at the hub of multiple health issues requires self-advocacy and expertise. Focus groups identified desirable eHealth resources and tools that reflect these themes.

Conclusions: Although patients with multiple health issues use eHealth technology to support self-care for specific conditions, they also desire tools that transcend disease boundaries. By addressing the holistic needs of patients with MCCs, eHealth technology can advance health care from a disease-centered to a patient-centered model.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease / therapy*
  • Comorbidity*
  • Consumer Health Information / methods
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Self Care
  • Telemedicine / methods*