Digital coaching increases medicine adherence and reduces flares for people with rheumatoid arthritis

life coach, digital coach, digital health, rheumatoid arthritisA digital health coaching programme with personalised support from a dedicated health coach improved well-being and decreased symptoms for people with rheumatoid arthritis, according to research presented at a recent conference.

Great advances have been made in medications to treat rheumatoid arthritis in recent years, but self-management by patients is essential. Now a digital health coaching company in the US has conducted a study to examine if a behaviour modification programme can help people with rheumatoid arthritis reduce stress related to their disease and make behaviour changes that, in turn, reduce symptoms and improve well-being.

A total of 127 people with rheumatoid arthritis were enrolled in the 12-week digital health coaching program that paired each patient with a non-clinical health coach. Patients were contacted once a week by telephone, and these conversations centred on the principles of patient engagement and behaviour change.

Analysis of the data collected showed a decrease in body-mass index, an increase in weekly physical activity, more sleep per night and a 50% reduction in the number of medication doses missed each week. Physical and mental health improved and flare frequency dropped by 50%.

“Often, patients with rheumatoid arthritis are overwhelmed, and they require both coaching and care coordination to improve their well-being,” says Uma Srivastava who is involved in the work. “However, rheumatologists often lack the time, tools and training required to effectively coach patients in the office environment. This study shows that incorporating tools such as digital remote patient coaching into the workflow of clinicians can support better outcomes, patient experience and health care utilization. In turn, clinicians are able to overcome barriers such as time, cost and patient non-adherence to recommended care.”

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