JMIR Publications

JMIR Medical Informatics

Clinical informatics, decision support for health professionals, electronic health records, and ehealth infrastructures.

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Journal Description

JMIR Medical Informatics (JMI, ISSN 2291-9694) is a top-rated, tier A journal which focuses on clinical informatics, big data in health and health care, decision support for health professionals, electronic health records, ehealth infrastructures and implementation. It has a focus on applied, translational research, with a broad readership including clinicians, CIOs, engineers, industry and health informatics professionals.

Published by JMIR Publications, publisher of the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR), the leading eHealth/mHealth journal (Impact Factor 2016: 5.175), JMIR Med Inform has a slightly different scope (emphasizing more on applications for clinicians and health professionals rather than consumers/citizens, which is the focus of JMIR), publishes even faster, and also allows papers which are more technical or more formative than what would be published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

JMIR Medical Informatics journal features a rapid and thorough peer-review process, professional copyediting, professional production of PDF, XHTML, and XML proofs (ready for deposit in PubMed Central/PubMed). The site is optimized for mobile and iPad use.

JMIR Medical Informatics adheres to the same quality standards as JMIR and all articles published here are also cross-listed in the Table of Contents of JMIR, the worlds' leading medical journal in health sciences / health services research and health informatics (http://www.jmir.org/issue/current).

 

Recent Articles:

  • Source: Pexels.com; Copyright: Startup Stock Photos; URL: https://www.pexels.com/photo/working-woman-technology-computer-7374/; License: Public Domain (CC0).

    DynAMo: A Modular Platform for Monitoring Process, Outcome, and Algorithm-Based Treatment Planning in Psychotherapy

    Abstract:

    Background: In recent years, the assessment of mental disorders has become more and more personalized. Modern advancements such as Internet-enabled mobile phones and increased computing capacity make it possible to tap sources of information that have long been unavailable to mental health practitioners. Objective: Software packages that combine algorithm-based treatment planning, process monitoring, and outcome monitoring are scarce. The objective of this study was to assess whether the DynAMo Web application can fill this gap by providing a software solution that can be used by both researchers to conduct state-of-the-art psychotherapy process research and clinicians to plan treatments and monitor psychotherapeutic processes. Methods: In this paper, we report on the current state of a Web application that can be used for assessing the temporal structure of mental disorders using information on their temporal and synchronous associations. A treatment planning algorithm automatically interprets the data and delivers priority scores of symptoms to practitioners. The application is also capable of monitoring psychotherapeutic processes during therapy and of monitoring treatment outcomes. This application was developed using the R programming language (R Core Team, Vienna) and the Shiny Web application framework (RStudio, Inc, Boston). It is made entirely from open-source software packages and thus is easily extensible. Results: The capabilities of the proposed application are demonstrated. Case illustrations are provided to exemplify its usefulness in clinical practice. Conclusions: With the broad availability of Internet-enabled mobile phones and similar devices, collecting data on psychopathology and psychotherapeutic processes has become easier than ever. The proposed application is a valuable tool for capturing, processing, and visualizing these data. The combination of dynamic assessment and process- and outcome monitoring has the potential to improve the efficacy and effectiveness of psychotherapy.

  • Semantic web in healthcare. Source: Image created by the authors; Copyright: The authors; URL: http://www.aut.ac.nz; License: Public Domain (CC0).

    Issues Associated With the Use of Semantic Web Technology in Knowledge Acquisition for Clinical Decision Support Systems: Systematic Review of the Literature

    Abstract:

    Background: Knowledge-based clinical decision support system (KB-CDSS) can be used to help practitioners make diagnostic decisions. KB-CDSS may use clinical knowledge obtained from a wide variety of sources to make decisions. However, knowledge acquisition is one of the well-known bottlenecks in KB-CDSSs, partly because of the enormous growth in health-related knowledge available and the difficulty in assessing the quality of this knowledge as well as identifying the “best” knowledge to use. This bottleneck not only means that lower-quality knowledge is being used, but also that KB-CDSSs are difficult to develop for areas where expert knowledge may be limited or unavailable. Recent methods have been developed by utilizing Semantic Web (SW) technologies in order to automatically discover relevant knowledge from knowledge sources. Objective: The two main objectives of this study were to (1) identify and categorize knowledge acquisition issues that have been addressed through using SW technologies and (2) highlight the role of SW for acquiring knowledge used in the KB-CDSS. Methods: We conducted a systematic review of the recent work related to knowledge acquisition MeM for clinical decision support systems published in scientific journals. In this regard, we used the keyword search technique to extract relevant papers. Results: The retrieved papers were categorized based on two main issues: (1) format and data heterogeneity and (2) lack of semantic analysis. Most existing approaches will be discussed under these categories. A total of 27 papers were reviewed in this study. Conclusions: The potential for using SW technology in KB-CDSS has only been considered to a minor extent so far despite its promise. This review identifies some questions and issues regarding use of SW technology for extracting relevant knowledge for a KB-CDSS.

  • Source: Pexels; Copyright: Kaboompics // Karolina; URL: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-of-woman-typing-on-keyboard-of-laptop-6352/; License: Public Domain (CC0).

    The Rules of Engagement: Perspectives on Secure Messaging From Experienced Ambulatory Patient Portal Users

    Abstract:

    Background: Patient portals have shown promise in engaging individuals in self-management of chronic conditions by allowing patients to input and track health information and exchange secure electronic messages with their providers. Past studies have identified patient barriers to portal use including usability issues, low health literacy, and concerns about loss of personal contact as well as provider concerns such as increased time spent responding to messages. However, to date, studies of both patient and provider perspectives on portal use have focused on the pre-implementation or initial implementation phases and do not consider how these issues may change as patients and providers gain greater experience with portals. Objective: Our study examined the following research question: Within primary care offices with high rates of patient-portal use, what do experienced physician and patient users of the ambulatory portal perceive as the benefits and challenges of portal use in general and secure messaging in particular? Methods: This qualitative study involved 42 interviews with experienced physician and patient users of an ambulatory patient portal, Epic’s MyChart. Participants were recruited from the Department of Family Medicine at a large Academic Medical Center (AMC) and included providers and their patients, who had been diagnosed with at least one chronic condition. A total of 29 patients and 13 primary care physicians participated in the interviews. All interviews were conducted by telephone and followed a semistructured interview guide. Interviews were transcribed verbatim to permit rigorous qualitative analysis. Both inductive and deductive methods were used to code and analyze the data iteratively, paying particular attention to themes involving secure messaging. Results: Experienced portal users discussed several emergent themes related to a need for greater clarity on when and how to use the secure messaging feature. Patient concerns included worry about imposing on their physician’s time, the lack of provider compensation for responding to secure messages, and uncertainty about when to use secure messaging to communicate with their providers. Similarly, providers articulated a lack of clarity as to the appropriate way to communicate via MyChart and suggested that additional training for both patients and providers might be important. Patient training could include orienting patients to the “rules of engagement” at portal sign-up, either in the office or through an online tutorial. Conclusions: As secure messaging through patient portals is increasingly being used as a method of physician-patient communication, both patients and providers are looking for guidance on how to appropriately engage with each other using this tool. Patients worry about whether their use is appropriate, and providers are concerned about the content of messages, which allow them to effectively manage patient questions. Our findings suggest that additional training may help address the concerns of both patients and providers, by providing “rules of engagement” for communication via patient portals.

  • Source: Image created by the authors; Copyright: Marco Duz; URL: http://medinform.jmir.org/2017/3/e17/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Validation of an Improved Computer-Assisted Technique for Mining Free-Text Electronic Medical Records

    Abstract:

    Background: The use of electronic medical records (EMRs) offers opportunity for clinical epidemiological research. With large EMR databases, automated analysis processes are necessary but require thorough validation before they can be routinely used. Objective: The aim of this study was to validate a computer-assisted technique using commercially available content analysis software (SimStat-WordStat v.6 (SS/WS), Provalis Research) for mining free-text EMRs. Methods: The dataset used for the validation process included life-long EMRs from 335 patients (17,563 rows of data), selected at random from a larger dataset (141,543 patients, ~2.6 million rows of data) and obtained from 10 equine veterinary practices in the United Kingdom. The ability of the computer-assisted technique to detect rows of data (cases) of colic, renal failure, right dorsal colitis, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use in the population was compared with manual classification. The first step of the computer-assisted analysis process was the definition of inclusion dictionaries to identify cases, including terms identifying a condition of interest. Words in inclusion dictionaries were selected from the list of all words in the dataset obtained in SS/WS. The second step consisted of defining an exclusion dictionary, including combinations of words to remove cases erroneously classified by the inclusion dictionary alone. The third step was the definition of a reinclusion dictionary to reinclude cases that had been erroneously classified by the exclusion dictionary. Finally, cases obtained by the exclusion dictionary were removed from cases obtained by the inclusion dictionary, and cases from the reinclusion dictionary were subsequently reincluded using Rv3.0.2 (R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria). Manual analysis was performed as a separate process by a single experienced clinician reading through the dataset once and classifying each row of data based on the interpretation of the free-text notes. Validation was performed by comparison of the computer-assisted method with manual analysis, which was used as the gold standard. Sensitivity, specificity, negative predictive values (NPVs), positive predictive values (PPVs), and F values of the computer-assisted process were calculated by comparing them with the manual classification. Results: Lowest sensitivity, specificity, PPVs, NPVs, and F values were 99.82% (1128/1130), 99.88% (16410/16429), 94.6% (223/239), 100.00% (16410/16412), and 99.0% (100×2×0.983×0.998/[0.983+0.998]), respectively. The computer-assisted process required few seconds to run, although an estimated 30 h were required for dictionary creation. Manual classification required approximately 80 man-hours. Conclusions: The critical step in this work is the creation of accurate and inclusive dictionaries to ensure that no potential cases are missed. It is significantly easier to remove false positive terms from a SS/WS selected subset of a large database than search that original database for potential false negatives. The benefits of using this method are proportional to the size of the dataset to be analyzed.

  • Source: Pixabay; Copyright: David Mark; URL: https://pixabay.com/en/arctic-sea-ocean-water-antarctica-139393/; License: Public Domain (CC0).

    Telemedicine Services for the Arctic: A Systematic Review

    Abstract:

    Background: Telemedicine services have been successfully used in areas where there are adequate infrastructures such as reliable power and communication lines. However, despite the increasing number of merchants and seafarers, maritime and Arctic telemedicine have had limited success. This might be linked with various factors such as lack of good infrastructure, lack of trained onboard personnel, lack of Arctic-enhanced telemedicine equipment, extreme weather conditions, remoteness, and other geographical challenges. Objective: The purpose of this review was to assess and analyze the current status of telemedicine services in the context of maritime conditions, extreme weather (ie, Arctic weather), and remote accidents and emergencies. Moreover, the paper aimed to identify successfully implemented telemedicine services in the Arctic region and in maritime settings and remote emergency situations and present state of the art systems for these areas. Finally, we identified the status quo of telemedicine services in the context of search and rescue (SAR) scenarios in these extreme conditions. Methods: A rigorous literature search was conducted between September 7 and October 28, 2015, through various online databases. Peer reviewed journals and articles were considered. Relevant articles were first identified by reviewing the title, keywords, and abstract for a preliminary filter with our selection criteria, and then we reviewed full-text articles that seemed relevant. Information from the selected literature was extracted based on some predefined categories, which were defined based on previous research and further elaborated upon via iterative brainstorming. Results: The initial hits were vetted using the title, abstract, and keywords, and we retrieved a total of 471 papers. After removing duplicates from the list, 422 records remained. Then, we did an independent assessment of the articles and screening based on the inclusion and exclusion criteria, which eliminated another 219 papers, leaving 203 relevant papers. After a full-text assessment, 36 articles were left, which were critically analyzed. The inter-rater agreement was measured using Cohen Kappa test, and disagreements were resolved through discussion. Conclusions: Despite the increasing number of fishermen and other seafarers, Arctic and maritime working conditions are mainly characterized by an absence of access to health care facilities. The condition is further aggravated for fishermen and seafarers who are working in the Arctic regions. In spite of the existing barriers and challenges, some telemedicine services have recently been successfully delivered in these areas. These services include teleconsultation (9/37, 24%), teleradiology (8/37, 22%), teledermatology and tele-education (3/37, 8%), telemonitoring and telecardiology (telesonography) (1/37, 3%), and others (10/37, 27%). However, the use of telemedicine in relation to search and rescue (SAR) services is not yet fully exploited. Therefore, we foresee that these implemented and evaluated telemedicine services will serve as underlying models for the successful implementation of future search and rescue (SAR) services.

  • Computerised childbirth monitoring tools. Source: Image created by the authors; Copyright: The authors; URL: http://medinform.jmir.org/2017/2/e14/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Computerized Childbirth Monitoring Tools for Health Care Providers Managing Labor: A Scoping Review

    Abstract:

    Background: Proper monitoring of labor and childbirth prevents many pregnancy-related complications. However, monitoring is still poor in many places partly due to the usability concerns of support tools such as the partograph. In 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) called for the development and evaluation of context-adaptable electronic health solutions to health challenges. Computerized tools have penetrated many areas of health care, but their influence in supporting health staff with childbirth seems limited. Objective: The objective of this scoping review was to determine the scope and trends of research on computerized labor monitoring tools that could be used by health care providers in childbirth management. Methods: We used key terms to search the Web for eligible peer-reviewed and gray literature. Eligibility criteria were a computerized labor monitoring tool for maternity service providers and dated 2006 to mid-2016. Retrieved papers were screened to eliminate ineligible papers, and consensus was reached on the papers included in the final analysis. Results: We started with about 380,000 papers, of which 14 papers qualified for the final analysis. Most tools were at the design and implementation stages of development. Three papers addressed post-implementation evaluations of two tools. No documentation on clinical outcome studies was retrieved. The parameters targeted with the tools varied, but they included fetal heart (10 of 11 tools), labor progress (8 of 11), and maternal status (7 of 11). Most tools were designed for use in personal computers in low-resource settings and could be customized for different user needs. Conclusions: Research on computerized labor monitoring tools is inadequate. Compared with other labor parameters, there was preponderance to fetal heart monitoring and hardly any summative evaluation of the available tools. More research, including clinical outcomes evaluation of computerized childbirth monitoring tools, is needed.

  • Source: Flickr; Copyright: e-Magine Art; URL: https://www.flickr.com/photos/emagineart/4741451457/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Applying STOPP Guidelines in Primary Care Through Electronic Medical Record Decision Support: Randomized Control Trial Highlighting the Importance of Data...

    Abstract:

    Background: Potentially Inappropriate Prescriptions (PIPs) are a common cause of morbidity, particularly in the elderly. Objective: We sought to understand how the Screening Tool of Older People’s Prescriptions (STOPP) prescribing criteria, implemented in a routinely used primary care Electronic Medical Record (EMR), could impact PIP rates in community (non-academic) primary care practices. Methods: We conducted a mixed-method, pragmatic, cluster, randomized control trial in research naïve primary care practices. Phase 1: In the randomized controlled trial, 40 fully automated STOPP rules were implemented as EMR alerts during a 16-week intervention period. The control group did not receive the 40 STOPP rules (but received other alerts). Participants were recruited through the OSCAR EMR user group mailing list and in person at user group meetings. Results were assessed by querying EMR data PIPs. EMR data quality probes were included. Phase 2: physicians were invited to participate in 1-hour semi-structured interviews to discuss the results. Results: In the EMR, 40 STOPP rules were successfully implemented. Phase 1: A total of 28 physicians from 8 practices were recruited (16 in intervention and 12 in control groups). The calculated PIP rate was 2.6% (138/5308) (control) and 4.11% (768/18,668) (intervention) at baseline. No change in PIPs was observed through the intervention (P=.80). Data quality probes generally showed low use of problem list and medication list. Phase 2: A total of 5 physicians participated. All the participants felt that they were aware of the alerts but commented on workflow and presentation challenges. Conclusions: The calculated PIP rate was markedly less than the expected rate found in literature (2.6% and 4.0% vs 20% in literature). Data quality probes highlighted issues related to completeness of data in areas of the EMR used for PIP reporting and by the decision support such as problem and medication lists. Users also highlighted areas for better integration of STOPP guidelines with prescribing workflows. Many of the STOPP criteria can be implemented in EMRs using simple logic. However, data quality in EMRs continues to be a challenge and was a limiting step in the effectiveness of the decision support in this study. This is important as decision makers continue to fund implementation and adoption of EMRs with the expectation of the use of advanced tools (such as decision support) without ongoing review of data quality and improvement. Trial Registration: Clinicaltrials.gov NCT02130895; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02130895 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6qyFigSYT)

  • VR Oculus Headset. Source: Pixabay; Copyright: Florian Pircher; URL: https://pixabay.com/en/vr-virtual-reality-glasses-911031/; License: Public Domain (CC0).

    Virtual Reality as an Adjunct Home Therapy in Chronic Pain Management: An Exploratory Study

    Abstract:

    Background: Virtual reality (VR) therapy has been successfully used as an adjunct therapy for the management of acute pain in adults and children, and evidence of potential efficacy in other health applications is growing. However, minimal research exists on the value of VR as an intervention for chronic pain. Objective: This case series examined the value of VR to be used as an adjunctive therapy for chronic pain patients in their own homes. Methods: An exploratory approach using a case series and personal interviews was used. Ten chronic pain patients received VR therapy for 30 min on alternate days for 1 month. Pre- and postexposure (immediately afterwards, 3 h, and at 24 h) pain assessment was recorded using the Numerical Rating Scale (NRS), and weekly using the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) and Self-completed Leeds Assessment of Neuropathic Symptoms and Signs pain scale (S-LANSS). Terminal semistructured personal interviews with the patients were also undertaken. Results: Of the 8 patients who completed the study, 5 of them reported that pain was reduced during the VR experience but no overall treatment difference in pain scores postexposure was observed. VR was not associated with any serious adverse events, although 60% of patients reported some cybersickness during some of the experiences. Conclusions: Of note is that the majority of these study participants reported a reduction in pain while using the VR but with highly individualized responses. One patient also reported some short-term improved mobility following VR use. Some evidence was found for the short-term efficacy of VR in chronic pain but no evidence for persistent benefits.

  • An example screenshot of IDEAL-X’s interface (montage). Source: The Authors / Imgur / Placeit.net; Copyright: JMIR Publications; URL: http://medinform.jmir.org/2017/2/e12/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Effective Information Extraction Framework for Heterogeneous Clinical Reports Using Online Machine Learning and Controlled Vocabularies

    Abstract:

    Background: Extracting structured data from narrated medical reports is challenged by the complexity of heterogeneous structures and vocabularies and often requires significant manual effort. Traditional machine-based approaches lack the capability to take user feedbacks for improving the extraction algorithm in real time. Objective: Our goal was to provide a generic information extraction framework that can support diverse clinical reports and enables a dynamic interaction between a human and a machine that produces highly accurate results. Methods: A clinical information extraction system IDEAL-X has been built on top of online machine learning. It processes one document at a time, and user interactions are recorded as feedbacks to update the learning model in real time. The updated model is used to predict values for extraction in subsequent documents. Once prediction accuracy reaches a user-acceptable threshold, the remaining documents may be batch processed. A customizable controlled vocabulary may be used to support extraction. Results: Three datasets were used for experiments based on report styles: 100 cardiac catheterization procedure reports, 100 coronary angiographic reports, and 100 integrated reports—each combines history and physical report, discharge summary, outpatient clinic notes, outpatient clinic letter, and inpatient discharge medication report. Data extraction was performed by 3 methods: online machine learning, controlled vocabularies, and a combination of these. The system delivers results with F1 scores greater than 95%. Conclusions: IDEAL-X adopts a unique online machine learning–based approach combined with controlled vocabularies to support data extraction for clinical reports. The system can quickly learn and improve, thus it is highly adaptable.

  • Doctor with patient accessing patient records. Source: Freepik.com; Copyright: Peoplecreations; URL: https://goo.gl/P3KwOL; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of Self-Describing Diabetes Medical Records: A Pilot Study

    Abstract:

    Background: Each patient’s medical record consists of data specific to that patient and is therefore an appropriate source to adapt educational information content. Objectives: This study aimed to design and implement an information provision system based on the medical records of diabetic patients and to investigate the attitudes of users toward using this product. Methods: The study was organized into three phases: need analysis, design and implementation, and final evaluation. The aim of the need analysis phase was to investigate the questioning behavior of the patient in the real-world context. The design and implementation phase consisted of four stages: determining the minimum dataset for diabetes medical records, collecting and validating content, designing and implementing a diabetes electronic medical record system, and data entry. Evaluating the final system was done based on the constructs of the technology acceptance model in the two dimensions of perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use. A semistructured interview was used for this purpose. Results: Three main categories were extracted for the patient’s perceived usefulness of the system: raising the self-awareness and knowledge of patients, improving their self-care, and improving doctor-patient interaction. Both patients and physicians perceived the personalized sense of information as a unique feature of the application and believed that this feature could have a positive effect on the patient’s motivation for learning and using information in practice. Specialists believed that providing personal feedback on the patient’s lab test results along with general explanations encourages the patients to read the content more precisely. Moreover, accessing medical records and helpful notes was a new and useful experience for the patients. Conclusions: One of the key perceived benefits of providing tailored information in the context of medical records was raising patient awareness and knowledge. The results obtained from field observations and interviews have shown that patients were ready to accept the system and had a positive attitude when it was put into practice. The findings related to user attitude can be used as a guideline to design the next phase of the research (ie, investigation of system effectiveness on patient outcomes).

  • Source: Flickr; Copyright: NEC Corporation of America; URL: http://c1.staticflickr.com/8/7450/15818355573_112e645920_b.jpg; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    A Software Framework for Remote Patient Monitoring by Using Multi-Agent Systems Support

    Abstract:

    Background: Although there have been significant advances in network, hardware, and software technologies, the health care environment has not taken advantage of these developments to solve many of its inherent problems. Research activities in these 3 areas make it possible to apply advanced technologies to address many of these issues such as real-time monitoring of a large number of patients, particularly where a timely response is critical. Objective: The objective of this research was to design and develop innovative technological solutions to offer a more proactive and reliable medical care environment. The short-term and primary goal was to construct IoT4Health, a flexible software framework to generate a range of Internet of things (IoT) applications, containing components such as multi-agent systems that are designed to perform Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) activities autonomously. An investigation into its full potential to conduct such patient monitoring activities in a more proactive way is an expected future step. Methods: A framework methodology was selected to evaluate whether the RPM domain had the potential to generate customized applications that could achieve the stated goal of being responsive and flexible within the RPM domain. As a proof of concept of the software framework’s flexibility, 3 applications were developed with different implementations for each framework hot spot to demonstrate potential. Agents4Health was selected to illustrate the instantiation process and IoT4Health’s operation. To develop more concrete indicators of the responsiveness of the simulated care environment, an experiment was conducted while Agents4Health was operating, to measure the number of delays incurred in monitoring the tasks performed by agents. Results: IoT4Health’s construction can be highlighted as our contribution to the development of eHealth solutions. As a software framework, IoT4Health offers extensibility points for the generation of applications. Applications can extend the framework in the following ways: identification, collection, storage, recovery, visualization, monitoring, anomalies detection, resource notification, and dynamic reconfiguration. Based on other outcomes involving observation of the resulting applications, it was noted that its design contributed toward more proactive patient monitoring. Through these experimental systems, anomalies were detected in real time, with agents sending notifications instantly to the health providers. Conclusions: We conclude that the cost-benefit of the construction of a more generic and complex system instead of a custom-made software system demonstrated the worth of the approach, making it possible to generate applications in this domain in a more timely fashion.

  • Image of Telehealth monitoring devices. Copyright: Cathy Soreny via Optical Jukebox; URL: http://www.opticaljukebox.org/catch-assistive-technology/; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Does Telehealth Monitoring Identify Exacerbations of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Reduce Hospitalisations? An Analysis of System Data

    Abstract:

    Background: The increasing prevalence and associated cost of treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is unsustainable. Health care organizations are focusing on ways to support self-management and prevent hospital admissions, including telehealth-monitoring services capturing physiological and health status data. This paper reports on data captured during a pilot randomized controlled trial of telehealth-supported care within a community-based service for patients discharged from hospital following an exacerbation of their COPD. Objective: The aim was to undertake the first analysis of system data to determine whether telehealth monitoring can identify an exacerbation of COPD, providing clinicians with an opportunity to intervene with timely treatment and prevent hospital readmission. Methods: A total of 23 participants received a telehealth-supported intervention. This paper reports on the analysis of data from a telehealth monitoring system that captured data from two sources: (1) data uploaded both manually and using Bluetooth peripheral devices by the 23 participants and (2) clinical records entered as nursing notes by the clinicians. Rules embedded in the telehealth monitoring system triggered system alerts to be reviewed by remote clinicians who determined whether clinical intervention was required. We also analyzed data on the frequency and length (bed days) of hospital admissions, frequency of hospital Accident and Emergency visits that did not lead to hospital admission, and frequency and type of community health care service contacts—other than the COPD discharge service—for all participants for the duration of the intervention and 6 months postintervention. Results: Patients generated 512 alerts, 451 of which occurred during the first 42 days that all participants used the equipment. Patients generated fewer alerts over time with typically seven alerts per day within the first 10 days and four alerts per day thereafter. They also had three times more days without alerts than with alerts. Alerts were most commonly triggered by reports of being more tired, having difficulty with self-care, and blood pressure being out of range. During the 8-week intervention, and for 6-month follow-up, eight of the 23 patients were hospitalized. Hospital readmission rates (2/23, 9%) in the first 28 days of service were lower than the 20% UK norm. Conclusions: It seems that the clinical team can identify exacerbations based on both an increase in alerts and the types of system-generated alerts as evidenced by their efforts to provided treatment interventions. There was some indication that telehealth monitoring potentially delayed hospitalizations until after patients had been discharged from the service. We suggest that telehealth-supported care can fulfill an important role in enabling patients with COPD to better manage their condition and remain out of hospital, but adequate resourcing and timely response to alerts is a critical factor in supporting patients to remain at home. Trial Registration: International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number (ISRCTN): 68856013; http://www.isrctn.com/ISRCTN68856013 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6ofApNB2e)

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  • Are SMS based maternal health information messages cost effective in improving utilization of maternal and child health services in Gauteng, South Africa?

    Date Submitted: Jun 11, 2017

    Open Peer Review Period: Jun 13, 2017 - Aug 8, 2017

    Background: Limited evidence exists on the value for money of SMS health information programs in low resource settings. Objective: Drawing from data collected as part of a retrospective study explorin...

    Background: Limited evidence exists on the value for money of SMS health information programs in low resource settings. Objective: Drawing from data collected as part of a retrospective study exploring the effectiveness of messaging exposure on utilization of maternal and child health services, we modelled the incremental cost effectiveness of gradually scaling up messaging services to pregnant women throughout Gauteng province, South Africa from 2012-2017. Methods: Stage based maternal health SMSs were sent to pregnant women twice per week in pregnancy and continued until the infant's first birthday. Program costs, incremental costs to users and the health system, were measured along with changes in utilization of antenatal care (ANC) visits and childhood immunizations, and compared against a control group of pregnant women who received no SMS messages. Incremental changes in utilization were inputted into the Lives Saved Tool and used to forecast lives saved and DALYs averted of gradually scaling up program activities to reach 60% of pregnant women across Gauteng province within 5 years. Uncertainty was characterized using one way and probabilistic uncertainty analyses. Results: Five-year program costs are estimated to be $1.2 million USD; 17% of which were incurred by costs on program development and 31% on SMS message delivery costs. Costs to users were $1.66 to attend clinic based services; nearly 90% of which was attributed to wages lost. Costs to the health system included provider time costs to register MAMA users ($0.08) and provide ANC 1-4 ($4.36) and PNC 1-5 ($3.08) services. Incremental costs per DALY averted from a societal perspective ranged from $1,985 USD in the first year of implementation to $200 USD in the 5th year. At a willingness to pay threshold of $2,000 USD, the project had a 40% probability of being cost effective in year 1 versus 100% in all years thereafter. Conclusions: Study findings suggest that SMS health information messages delivered to pregnant women may be a cost-effective strategy for bolstering ANC and childhood immunizations, even at very small margins of coverage increases. Primary data obtained prospectively as part of more rigorous study designs are needed to validate modelled results. Clinical Trial: Not applicable

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