Aim To determine the impact of the introduction of the app IBDMate to the paediatric inflammatory bowel disease (PIBD) service on patient satisfaction, medication adherence and understanding.
Method The PIBD department and IBDrelief have developed an app - IBDMate for children with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and their guardians. The app aims to improve the health literacy and quality of life for patients. With IBDMate, the PIBD team can ‘prescribe’ educational courses from hundreds of videos, articles and quizzes featuring the PIBD team. Topics include living with IBD, medication, meet your team, tests and research.
The project was ethically approved by the patient engagement team. A baseline measure of patient satisfaction with the PIBD service and understanding of medications was established prior to the app introduction using a paper-based questionnaire, distributed to patients after their hospital visit from 01/10/2020 - 31/12/2020. Following the introduction of the app, a second online questionnaire was distributed from 01/05/2021 - 30/06/2021.
The PIBD helpline was also reviewed for medication related enquiries during the study period. Data from patients/guardians who had not accessed the app before completing the second questionnaire were excluded. Patients were given a unique identifier and no personal information was collected. Descriptive and comparative statistical analysis was undertaken to assess impact.
Results The first and second questionnaires were completed by 33 and 31 patients respectively. Patient satisfaction with the quality and way information is received improved from 88% to 100%. Understanding of how medication works and side effects of medicines improved by almost 20%. After using IBDmate patients were able to remember 10% more information about their medicine and unintentional medication omission reduced from 10% to 0%. Responses to open questions revealed patients felt that the app helped them understand their medicines better and they found it useful to get to know the clinical team and hear other patients’ stories. Participants felt the app was a trusted, reliable and relevant source of information. Suggested improvements were having a section for younger children to engage with, and retention of login details. 55% used the app to look at information about their medication. The number of calls to the PIBD helpline that were related to medication dropped from 25% to 15% following introduction of the app.
Conclusion The introduction of IBDMate has had numerous positive impacts on patients through increased knowledge, accessibility, medication adherence and trust in information. This project demonstrates the benefits and further potential of the app although several areas would benefit from additional work including: monitor service satisfaction to ensure high standards are maintained as the app is developed; encourage broader use of the app; further research on the impact of the app on freeing up clinical resources by reduced helpline call volume and clinic visits; and further development of the app to include resources for younger children and retention of login details.
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