EHealth Technologies in Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Systematic Review

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Abstract

Background and Aims:

Electronic-health technologies (eHealth) such as Web-based interventions, virtual clinics, smart-phone applications, and telemedicine are being used to manage patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). We aimed to: (1) Evaluate the impact of eHealth technologies on conventional clinical indices and patient-reported outcome measures (PROs) in IBD; (2) assess the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and feasibility of using eHealth technologies to facilitate the self-management of individuals with IBD, and; (3) provide recommendations for their design and optimal use for patient care.

Methods:

Relevant publications were identified via a literature search, and 17 publications were selected based on predefined quality parameters.

Results:

Six randomized controlled trials and nine observational studies utilizing eHealth technologies in IBD were identified. Compared with standard outpatient-led care, eHealth technologies have led to improvements in: Relapse duration [(n = 1) 18 days vs 77 days, p < 0.001]; disease activity (n = 2); short-term medication adherence (n = 3); quality of life (n = 4); IBD knowledge (n = 2); healthcare costs (n = 4); the number of acute visits to the outpatient clinic due to IBD symptoms (n = 1), and; facilitating the remote management of up to 20% of an IBD cohort (n = 2). Methodological shortcomings of eHealth studies include heterogeneity of outcome measures, lack of clinician/patient input, lack of validation against conventional clinical indices and PROs, and limited cost–benefit analyses.

Conclusions:

EHealth technologies have the potential for promoting self-management and reducing the impact of the growing burden of IBD on health care resource utilization. A theoretical framework should be applied to the development, implementation, and evaluation of eHealth interventions.

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