Background The impact of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) on quality of life is impressive due to functional impairment, negative mental impact and feel of social isolation. To improve the quality of life of the patient, three critical areas have been identified: improved self-insight, enabled sharing with the rheumatologist and socializing with peers.
Based on patient input an app was developed. The app served as the patient' own tool used for disease monitoring.
Objectives To develop an app, which can be used in daily life to measure mood, pain, fatigue and stiffness. The data will be used by the patient for daily use and it will be used in the communication with the rheumatologist.
Furthermore, to develop an app which can be used for connecting with peers and asking for advice.
Methods An app, named RheumaBuddy, has been developed based on patient-input covering the needs of young people with RA in Denmark. RheumaBuddy is an app focused on achievement of self-empowerment. Through the app patients gets a better overview of the actual status of their disease, discovering patterns and getting hints to change their daily activities in a positive direction.
The app has been developed in a joint-venture with participation of the patient association, a digital health service provider and a rheumatologist/professor within RA. The design and functionality of the app is based on the theory of co-creation with patients as the primary user and source, and with several test rounds and adjustments.
Results RheumaBuddy is developed and tested among patients and rheumatologist.
Through several workshops and local meetings in Denmark, the patient association has identified the needs for an empowerment tool.
The app has been tested in 4 patient sessions with 2-5 patients participating in each session. The app was evaluated as good and progressive by the patients. Patient feedback is that it supports them in taking control of their disease.
The app has been presented to 3 rheumatologists, who all recognized the data points collected in the app as relevant for consultations, and they found the app relevant for daily use.
In general, patients in Denmark have shown great interest in the app, and it has empowered the patient association itself.
Conclusions There is a potential to leverage smartphone technology to empower patients themselves, enabling better communication with the healthcare professionals and to foster knowledge sharing and help with peers.
RheumaBuddy has shown to be an operational tool which can be used. The app is planned for roll out to other countries in Europe, thereby extending the buddy-community and raising the quality of data available for research.
The impact of usage of such an instrument has to be validated in daily practice.
Acknowledgements AbbVie Denmark for providing a grant for the development costs of the app.
Disclosure of Interest J. Rickmann: None declared, B. Schiøttz-Christensen: None declared, A. Dam Shareholder of: RheumaBuddy App
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