Health information applications can help engage patients in their care and improve outcomes, according to research released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Reviewers studied journal articles and research literature to find randomized controlled trials of a group of information technology applications known as consumer health informatics, which are designed to interact directly with consumers and provide individualized information and care-management assistance. The reviewed literature studied how consumer health informatics are influencing health and outcomes, AHRQ said in its report.
The review looked at 146 articles for IT applications used in a range of health conditions including asthma, breast cancer, mental health, obesity and smoking cessation. Despite limitations, AHRQ said it found that health informatics applications can reach consumers at low costs and help enhance efficiencies of care interventions. Patients benefited more from receiving traditional therapies coupled with using a health informatics application, according to the literature reviewed, AHRQ said.
Still, more research should be conducted. “Despite the positive nature of some of the available evidence, significant research opportunities and knowledge gaps exist in terms of understanding the role of consumer health informatics applications targeting children, adolescents, the elderly and specifically nontraditional patient caregivers,” AHRQ wrote.