Background: Chronic conditions present major health problems, affecting an increasing number of individuals who experience a variety of symptoms that impact their health related quality of life. Digital tools can be of support in chronic conditions, potentially improving patient-provider communication, promoting shared decision making for treatment and care, and possibly even improving patient outcomes. This study aimed to develop a digital tool for patient-provider communication in chronic health care settings and describes the data collection and subsequent content and software development of the InvolveMe tool. InvolveMe will provide patients with the opportunity to report symptoms and preferences to their health care providers (HCP), and to use secure messaging to interact with the HCPs.
Method: The study employed a combination of interviews with patients with chronic conditions and focus groups with HCPs, examining experiences with chronic conditions and the potential use of a digital tool for support. Participants were recruited from two outpatient clinics at a university hospital. Data collected from interviews and focus groups were analysed using thematic analysis. Content and software development was informed by the data collection and by tool development workshops.
Results: Analyses from interviews with patients (n = 14) and focus groups with HCPs (n = 11) generated three main themes: 1) Making symptoms and challenges visible, 2) Mastering a new life, and 3) Digital opportunities for follow-up. Each main theme generated separate subthemes. Theme 1 and 2 gave input for content development of the symptom and needs assessment part of the tool, while theme 3 provided ideas for the software development of the InvolveMe tool. Tool development workshops with patients (n = 6) and HCPs (n = 6) supplemented the development.
Conclusions: A digital tool such as InvolveMe has the potential to support shared decision making for patients with chronic health conditions. Through integration with an existing patient portal such a tool can provide opportunities for meaningful interactions and communication between patients and HCP's, particularly with regards to symptoms, needs and preferences for care.
Keywords: Digital assessment; Digital communication; Non-functioning pituitary adenoma; Patient centered care; Patient-provider communication; Patient-provider interaction; Renal transplant recipients; Secure messaging; Shared decision making; eHealth.