LONDON – Digital communication can improve the health care experience of younger patients, according to research published recently on the NIHR Journals Library.
“Digital communication enables timely access for young people to the right clinician at the time when it can make a difference to how they manage their health condition,” said Frances Griffiths, lead researcher at the University of Warwick and King’s College, in a statement about her team’s study. “This is valued as an addition to traditional clinic appointments, and can engage those otherwise disengaged. It can enhance patient autonomy, empowerment and activation.”
Griffiths and her team interviewed 165 young patients, aged 16-24 years, who live with a long-term health condition, along with 173 health professionals, including 16 information governance specialists. Overall, 79 clinical observations took place. The researchers wanted to establish if the health of this population, who are involved in their own health care, improves as a result of using digital communication like text messages, emails and video with their clinicians.
Research findings suggest that benefits are most likely and risks are mitigated when digital communication is used with patients who already have a relationship of trust with their clinical team, and who need to have flexible access, such as when transitioning between services and treatments.
“Digital communication is already happening between health professionals and young people, and it’s clearly something young people want,” said Jackie Sturt, co-lead researcher, in a statement.