Digital Self-monitoring of Multiple Sclerosis: Interview Study With Dutch Health Care Providers on the Expected New Configuration of Roles and Responsibilities - medtigo


Digital Self-monitoring of Multiple Sclerosis: Interview Study With Dutch Health Care Providers on the Expected New Configuration of Roles and Responsibilities

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JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2022 Apr 27;10(4):e30224. doi: 10.2196/30224.


BACKGROUND: Digital self-monitoring allows patients to produce and share personal health data collected at home. This creates a novel situation in which health care providers and patients must engage in a reconfiguration of roles and responsibilities. Although existing research pays considerable attention to the perceptions of patients regarding digital self-monitoring, less attention has been paid to the needs, wishes, and concerns of health care providers. As several companies and public institutions are developing and testing digital self-monitoring at the time of writing, it is timely and relevant to explore how health care providers envision using these technologies in their daily work practices. Our findings can be considered in decision-making processes concerning the further development and implementation of digital self-monitoring.

OBJECTIVE: This study aims to explore how health care providers envisage using smartphone apps for digital self-monitoring of multiple sclerosis (MS) in their daily work practices, with a particular focus on physician-patient communication and on how health care providers respond to self-monitoring data and delegate tasks and responsibilities to patients.

METHODS: We conducted semistructured in-depth interviews with 14 MS health care providers: 4 neurologists, 7 MS specialist nurses, and 3 rehabilitation professionals. They are affiliated with 3 different hospitals in the Netherlands that will participate in a pilot study to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of a specific smartphone app for self-monitoring.

RESULTS: The interviewed health care providers seemed willing to use these smartphone apps and valued the quantitative data they produce that can complement the narratives that patients provide during medical appointments. The health care providers primarily want to use digital self-monitoring via prescription, meaning that they want a standardized smartphone app and want to act as its gatekeepers. Furthermore, they envisioned delegating particular tasks and responsibilities to patients via digital self-monitoring, such as sharing data with the health care providers or acting on the data, if necessary. The health care providers expected patients to become more proactive in the management of their disease. However, they also acknowledged that not all patients are willing or able to use digital self-monitoring apps and were concerned about the potential psychological and emotional burden on patients caused by this technology.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings show that health care providers envisage a particular type of patient empowerment and personalized health care in which tensions arise between health care providers acting as gatekeepers and patient autonomy, between patient empowerment and patient disempowerment, and between the weight given to quantitative objective data and that given to patients’ subjective experiences. In future research, it would be very interesting to investigate the actual experiences of health care providers with regard to digital self-monitoring to ascertain how the tensions mentioned in this paper play out in practice.

PMID:35475770 | DOI:10.2196/30224