An Exploratory Study of Patient Attitudes towards Symptom Reporting in a Primary Care Setting Benefits for Medical Consultation and Syndromic Surveillance?

Special Topic: Medinfo 2010 M. A. Johansen (1), G. Berntsen (1), N. Shrestha (2), J. G. Bellika (1, 3), J.-A. K. Johnsen (1, 2) (1) Norwegian Centre for Integrated Care and Telemedicine, University Hospital of North Norway, Tromsø, Norway; (2) Research Group Telemedicine, Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway; (3) Department of Computer Science, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway Summary

Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate people’s attitude towards providing symptom information electronically before a consultation. Specific areas investigated include a) attitudes and experiences with regards to acquisition of information related to symptoms, b) attitudes towards computer based communication of symptoms to the general practitioner and how they preferred to carry out such reporting, and c) attitudes towards storage, use and presentation of symptom-data in general, and particularly in a symptom based surveillance setting. Methods: Data was collected from 83 respondents by use of convenience sampling. Results: The respondents were familiar with using the Internet for health purposes, such as acquisition of information related to their symptoms prior to a consultation. The majority of respondents had a positive attitude towards providing information about their symptoms to the general practitioner’s office as soon as possible after falling ill. Over half of the respondents preferred to use e-mail or a web-interface to perform this task. Eighty four percent were willing to have their symptom data stored in their EPR and 76 percent agreed that the general practitioner might access the symptoms together with the prevalence of matching diseases in order to assist the diagnostic process during the next consultation. Conclusions: The results of this study support the applicability of electronically mediated pre-consultation systems both for improving primary care consultation and for use in symptom based surveillance, including real-time surveillance.
Health Buddy yields hundreds of dollars in quarterly savings for telehealth patients
Carefully designed and implemented care management and telehealth programs can help reduce health care spending, and thus merit continued attention by Medicare, a Stanford University research team concluded. Writing in the journal Health Affairs, the team published results from its study of two health clinics in the Northwest that adopted the Health Buddy telehealth program, which provides patients with handheld devices and monitors for home use as they respond to daily questions tailored to their diagnosis. Patient responses are uploaded to a Web-based application, viewable by care managers, that evaluates risks associated with patient responses. The team found “significant” spending reductions among Health Buddy users of about 7.7% to 13.3%— between $312 and $542—per person per quarter.

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