UCLA medical center equips IBD patients with iPads

By Brian Dolan
03:44 am

iPad 2The UCLA Center for Inflammatory Bowl Diseases just completed the pilot phase of a program that equips patients who have Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis with iPads to help them track and monitor their conditions while staying in touch with their care team throughout the day as needed. Now that the pilot phase is over, UCLA is enrolling about 250 patients in the program.

"Using a tablet like an iPad helps us to reach out and interact with patients during their daily lives and routines so we can intervene early, if needed," Dr. Daniel Hommes, professor of medicine at UCLA and director of the Center for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, said in a written statement published on UCLA's site. "We want patients to feel that carrying the iPad is like having a doctor in your back pocket."

The iPad application surveys patients about disease activity, quality of life, and productivity at work. Upon completion, the answers are then sent to nurses for review. The app also offers traffic reports for patients set to head to the clinic for an appointment. In addition to the surveys, the devices include educational programs to help patients better understand their condition, the diagnostic tests they might go through, and relevant medications.

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Doctors and nurses can react to the survey responses by changing a patient's prescription, suggesting they make an appointment for an office visit, or remotely counseling the patient to help them cope with anxiety or feelings of isolation.

UCLA notes that the program is designed to help it provide value-based care "in which adding 'value' to each individual patient — measured by disease control, quality of life and productivity — is the sole aim. UCLA is using a so-called 'value quotient,' or VQ, which captures the value of health care services to individual patients over time and correlates this with its associated costs."

"By providing our services through our virtual UCLA hospital on iPads, we hope to demonstrate not only a significant increase in the quality of our care delivery but also a substantial reduction in costs," Hommes stated. "Our next steps include an exploration of offering health plans in which participating patients will be rewarded with a health plan benefit."


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