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LETTER TO EDITOR
Ahead of print publication  

Digital health practices in rheumatology


 Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Faculty of Medicine, Cukurova University, Adana, Turkey

Date of Submission05-Jul-2021
Date of Acceptance17-Jul-2021
Date of Web Publication21-May-2022

Correspondence Address:
Ilke Coskun Benlidayi,
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Faculty of Medicine, Cukurova University, Adana
Turkey
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/injr.injr_148_21



How to cite this URL:
Benlidayi IC. Digital health practices in rheumatology. Indian J Rheumatol [Epub ahead of print] [cited 2022 Oct 1]. Available from: https://www.indianjrheumatol.com/preprintarticle.asp?id=345782



Dear Editor,

Over the last decade, digital health tools have been widely used by healthcare providers to improve use of healthcare data, to optimize workflows/efficiency, and to clarify/refine diagnoses in several health conditions.[1] Moreover, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has led to a substantial need for digital health practices. Kernder et al., in their web-based national survey, examined patients' and physicians' perspectives on digitalization in rheumatology during the COVID-19 pandemic.[2] Most of the participants reported that digital health applications are useful in the management of rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. On the other hand, too little information concerning suitable/available digital health applications, lack of usability, poor quality, and too little evidence for their benefits were stated as the main barriers for digital health applications usage.[2] In this regard, it is essential to find which digital health software tool is appropriate and safe for which clinical condition or patient.[1] Electronic health records, artificial intelligence/machine learning, sensors/wearable monitors, video consultations/virtual visits, smartphone applications, digital therapeutics, and social media platforms are some examples of digital health components. A combination of these tools could also be used to provide healthcare delivery and to overcome distance, location, and time constraints.[3]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, monitoring intervals of rheumatic patients have prolonged; many face-to-face appointments had to be postponed/cancelled or were changed to telehealth consultations.[2],[4] Virtual consulting has been widely used for patients with rheumatic diseases [Figure 1]. Virtual visits can be used for assessment, goal setting, and tele-education such as remote physiotherapy advice in patients with chronic rheumatic conditions.[5]
Figure 1: Scientific cartoon

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Digital health technologies in rheumatology practices have certain benefits both for patients and for clinicians. Mobile health applications are helpful in monitoring patient-reported outcomes, tracking medication, diet, and lifestyle. Digital therapeutics may provide timely medication adjustments and can improve adherence and outcomes. Artificial intelligence/machine learning has promising performance in many aspects of rheumatology practice.[6] Digital health practices can also help patients with self-management. The European League Against Rheumatism 2021 recommendations for the implementation of self-management strategies in patients with inflammatory arthritis pointed out the essentiality of digital healthcare in supporting and optimizing self-management. It is stated that healthcare professionals should be aware of digital health sources and implement digital healthcare into supported self-management protocols where appropriate and available.[7]

Overall, there is favorable attitude of patients, rheumatologists, as well as digital health developers toward digital health transition in rheumatology.[4] Implementing digital health in daily clinical practice would be of great benefit provided that appropriate, usable, and quality digital health tools are used.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Auerbach AD. Evaluating digital health tools-prospective, experimental, and real World. JAMA Intern Med 2019;179:840-1.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Kernder A, Morf H, Klemm P, Vossen D, Haase I, Mucke J, et al. Digital rheumatology in the era of COVID-19: Results of a national patient and physician survey. RMD Open 2021;7:e001548.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Kataria S, Ravindran V. Digital health: A new dimension in rheumatology patient care. Rheumatol Int 2018;38:1949-57.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Mühlensiepen F, Kurkowski S, Krusche M, Mucke J, Prill R, Heinze M, et al. Digital health transition in rheumatology: A qualitative study. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2021;18:2636.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Coskun Benlidayi I. Virtual consulting for remote physiotherapy advice in chronic rheumatic diseases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Indian J Rheumatol 2021 [Epub ahead of print]. [doi: 10.4103/injr.injr_292_20].  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Solomon DH, Rudin RS. Digital health technologies: Opportunities and challenges in rheumatology. Nat Rev Rheumatol 2020;16:525-35.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Nikiphorou E, Santos EJF, Marques A, Böhm P, Bijlsma JW, Daien CI, et al. 2021 EULAR recommendations for the implementation of self-management strategies in patients with inflammatory arthritis. Ann Rheum Dis 2021;80:1278-85.  Back to cited text no. 7
    


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