Mobile medical consultations reduce costs for arthritis patients

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 - Old_Hands

Researchers from China have developed an online consultation tool accessed through a mobile app that could improve patient-provider relationships, improve self-care for chronic disease patients and lower costs for rheumatic disease patients, according to findings presented at the 2017 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting in San Diego.

"In China, there are over 100 million people suffering from rheumatic disease. These patients seek medical services in a hospital regularly. However, only 5,000 rheumatologists are available across the country, and most of them only practice in the top-tier hospitals in major cities," said Fei Xiao, MD, CEO of Cinkate Corporation and a lead author of the study. “Most arthritis patients in China must travel long distances to seek rheumatologic care at a hospital, and must stay in nearby hotels and endure long waits for a visit with the clinician. It is not uncommon for most Chinese rheumatologists to have to see up to 60 to 100 patients daily. Because of the large volume of patients who go to major hospitals for regular clinical care, physicians may only spend three minutes on average with each patient. This limits the time to do objective disease activity evaluations."

In response to the barriers presented to chronic condition patients in needing to see a physician, researchers developed the Smart System of Disease Management (SSDM), a series of applications and online consultations, to reduce costs and provide higher quality care.

This study evaluated 403 rheumatologists who provided 4,002 patients with rheumatic diseases with 293 free and 3,709 paid consultations.

Overall, the cost of the online system consultation was 6.61 times lower than receiving conventional care. Additionally, 66 percent of patients reported the online consultation as “very satisfying.”

"SSDM inspires a paradigm shift in medical care for chronic disease through empowering the patient. Through a one-time training, patients can input data regularly to effectively follow their progress," said Xiao. "Access to this online program also helps physicians to mine and analyze data for scientific research and publication. Based on the trajectory and real-time data, such as disease activity score, lab results, medication and patient's symptoms, physicians are able to take proactive interventions, and turn passive practice into outcome-driven care. This model can be replicated into the other disciplines and fields of chronic disease."