Educating Patients by Providing Timely Information Using Smartphone and Tablet Apps: Systematic Review
SourceJournal of Medical Internet Research, 22, 4, (2020), article e17342
Article / Letter to editor
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Journal of Medical Internet Research
SubjectRadboudumc 18: Healthcare improvement science RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences; Radboudumc 6: Metabolic Disorders RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
BACKGROUND: Patient education is a crucial element within health care. It is a known predictor for increased engagement in shared decision making, improved medication and treatment adherence, higher levels of satisfaction, and even better treatment outcomes. Unfortunately, often patients only remember a very limited amount of medical information. An important reason is that most patients are simply not capable of processing large amounts of new medical information in a short time. Apps for smartphones and tablets have the potential to actively educate patients by providing them with timely information through the use of push notifications. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this systematic review is to provide an overview of the effects of using smartphone and tablet apps to educate patients with timely education. Within this review, we focused on patients that receive their care in a hospital setting. We assessed the effects of the interventions on outcomes, such as patients' knowledge about their illness and treatment, adherence to treatment instructions and to medication usage, and satisfaction with the care they received. METHODS: A comprehensive search of MEDLINE (Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online), Embase, CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature), and Web of Science was conducted. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published between January 2015 and November 2019 were eligible for inclusion. Two reviewers independently searched and screened articles, assessed study quality and risk of bias, and extracted the data. Due to the heterogeneity of populations, interventions, and outcomes, a meta-analysis was not deemed appropriate. Instead, a narrative synthesis is presented. RESULTS: A total of 21 RCTs with 4106 participants were included. Compared to usual care, overall effectiveness of the interventions was demonstrated in 69% of the outcomes. Effectiveness increased to 82% when the intervention had a duration shorter than one month and increased to 78% when the intervention provided at least one push notification per week. The interventions showed the highest effects on satisfaction with information, adherence to treatment instructions and to medication usage, clinical outcomes, and knowledge. CONCLUSIONS: This review demonstrates that educating patients with timely medical information through their smartphones or tablets improves their levels of knowledge, medication or treatment adherence, satisfaction, and clinical outcomes, as well as having a positive effect on health care economics. These effects are most pronounced in interventions with a short duration (ie, less than a month) and with a high frequency of messages to patients (ie, once per week or more). With the knowledge that patient education is a predictor for improved outcomes and the fact that patients have obvious difficulties processing large amounts of new medical information, we suggest incorporating the delivery of timely information through smartphone and tablet apps within current medical practices.
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