Background The Swedish Rheumatism Association has in collaboration with an E-health company (Health Solutions AB) developed a service which offers members the opportunity to participate in a coaching program focused on lifestyle issues, such as sleep, stress, alcohol and tobacco consumption and level of physical activity.
The program consists of phone and e-mail based coaching by a nurse, supported by a web-based application for setting up personal goals, registering activities and checking statistics.
Objectives In a society where patients increasingly assume a greater responsibility for their own treatment secondary factors such as lifestyle gain a more important role for the well-being of the patient. Yet patient organizations offer little to no general advice in this field. By offering a coaching service to its members the Swedish Rheumatism Association could amend this and at the same time inspire its members to work actively towards a healthier lifestyle that would increase their overall chances of a successful rehabilitation process.
But in order to do this Swedish Rheumatism Association needed to make the original concept its own, by building a new interface for the application and by rebranding the coaching service so that it would appeal to a bigger target group.
The result was “Hälsoportalen”, (the Health Portal) a service that was rolled out in September 2014.
Its purpose: to enable and motivate people with rheumatic diseases to make a lasting change of habits towards a healthier lifestyle.
Methods User participation played a vital part in the development of the new interface to the database hosted by Health Solutions. Nurses and patients access its functions via the membership area in our website. The efforts were focused on creating a user friendly and self-explanatory interface for entering values, sending text messages, blogging, setting up patient goals and checking user statistics.
The patients are instructed to create a plan for each area of improvement, such as “increasing my level of physical activity”, “decrease my stress levels”, “loose X amount of body weight” et cetera. They are then encouraged by their coach to regularly register their activities towards reaching the goals set in the plan. The entered data are presented both in calendar form and as graphs in a diagram so the patients can easily follow their progress. The patients can also register their general state of fatigue, stiffness and pain.
The coaching nurse has access to the same data and can discuss them in the scheduled phone calls throughout the 6 month long coaching program. Access to the program is limited to people with one of the following diagnoses: ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis.
Results The results so far have been overwhelmingly positive, with a very high sign up rate from our website and excellent user reviews. Currently we have 115 active users in individual coaching programs.
We are in the process of conducting a more thorough user evaluation as our first patients are starting to wrap up their individual programs but based on previous results from similar programs we have high hopes of a high retention rate when it comes to keeping up a healthier lifestyle.
Conclusions The Swedish Rheumatism Association believes in the importance of empowering the patients. By offering tools for self-help combined with personal advice from a professional health care worker we can support a general movement towards a healthier lifestyle.
Disclosure of Interest None declared