Pick up the phone: A post-pandemic look at the potential role of mHealth tools in lupus care

We chat with Dr Claire Tkacz about the future of patient care and the role of mHealth in contributing to a reduction in global disease burden.
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Claire Tkacz
Claire Tkacz

By Dr Claire Tkacz.

It’s not news that times are tough. Our healthcare systems have been stretched to their limits – even before they were hit with a global pandemic. Now, in the wake of the aftershocks, the question remains: what is the future of patient care?

In a 2020 report by McKinsey, digital therapeutics were predicted to contribute to a reduction in global disease burden by 6–10% by 2040.1

At VISFO, we are big believers in tech, so it’s exciting to see the power of artificial intelligence, big data and behavioural science gaining traction in the healthcare space.

While we may still have a way to go until 2040, the educational value of mHealth tools has already been demonstrated for patients living with conditions like heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease and cancer.2,3,4 mHealth apps have also been shown to be powerful vehicles for the delivery of behaviour change interventions and a potential means to improve quality of life,5,6,7 so it’s easy to see why these tools are fast becoming an integral part of how patients and their healthcare professionals (HCPs) manage information, share knowledge, and communicate.8

At VISFO, we have a special interest in the autoimmune disease lupus. Unfortunately, mHealth in this space has a lot of catching up to do. Many of the tools currently available to the lupus community are of poor quality and limited functionality, with only one having evidence of patient involvement in the design process.7,9 Having also spoken with patients about what it’s like living with lupus, and what is wanted in mHealth tech, it’s clear there’s a lack of useful apps on the market when it comes to lupus.

The need for a high-quality, patient-centric mHealth tools for the lupus community was made ever more apparent by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that the medical and scientific community has begun taking stock of the true impact of the pandemic, here are our key takeaways on what this could mean for the future of lupus care, and beyond.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought into focus the complex needs of the lupus patient population. Here at VISFO, we believe individuals should feel empowered to take control of their healthcare journey, and that mHealth tools have the power to make this a reality. If developed in the right way, these technologies have the potential to revolutionise how patients interact with HCPs – and each other – and could help ensure continuity of care regardless of what else is happening in the world.


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