Impact of assessing patient-reported outcomes with mobile apps on patient-provider interaction

RMD Open. 2021 Apr;7(1):e001566. doi: 10.1136/rmdopen-2021-001566.


Objective: To explore the effect of apps measuring patient-reported outcomes (PROs) on patient-provider interaction in the rheumatic diseases in an observational setting.

Methods: Patients in the Swiss Clinical Quality Management in Rheumatic Diseases Registry were offered mobile apps (iDialog and COmPASS) to track disease status between rheumatology visits using validated PROs (Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease Activity Index-5 score, Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index score, Routine Assessment of Patient Index Data-3 score and Visual Analogue Scale score for pain, disease activity and skin symptoms). We assessed two aspects of patient-provider interaction: shared decision making (SDM) and physician awareness of disease fluctuations. We used logistic regressions to compare outcomes among patients who (1) used an app and discussed app data with their physician (app+discussion group), (2) used an app without discussing the data (app-only group) or (3) did not use any app (non-app users).

Results: 2111 patients were analysed, including 1799 non-app users, 150 app-only users and 162 app+discussion users (43% male; with 902 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, 766 patients with axial spondyloarthritis and 443 patients with psoriatic arthritis). App users were younger than non-app users (mean age of 47 vs 51 years, p<0.001). Compared with non-app users, the app+discussion group rated their rheumatologist more highly in SDM (OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.1 to 2.4) and physician awareness of disease fluctuations (OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.3 to 3.1). This improvement was absent in the app-only group.

Conclusion: App users who discussed app data with their rheumatologist reported more favourably on patient-provider interactions than app users who did not and non-app users. Apps measuring PROs may contribute little to patient-provider interactions without integration of app data into care processes.

Keywords: health care; health services research; outcome and process assessment; patient-reported outcome measures.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Psoriatic*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Rheumatology*
  • Spondylarthritis*