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The Health Buddies app as a novel tool to improve adherence and knowledge in atrial fibrillation patients

Journal Contribution - e-publication

Subtitle:a pilot study
Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) constitutes an important risk for stroke, especially in an ageing population. A new app (Health Buddies) was developed as a tool to improve adherence to non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOACs) in an elderly AF population by providing a virtual contract with their grandchildren, spelling out daily challenges for both. Objective: The aim of this pilot study was to assess the feasibility and usability of the Health Buddies app in AF patients. Methods: Two workshops were conducted to steer app development and to test a first prototype. The feasibility of the finalized app was investigated by assessing the number of eligible AF patients (based on current prescription of NOACs, the presence of grandchildren between 5 and 15 years old, availability of a mobile phone, computer, or tablet), and the proportion of those who were willing to participate. Participants had to use the app for 3 months. The motivation of the patients to use the app was assessed based on the number of logins to the app. Their perception of its usefulness was examined by specific questionnaires. Additionally, the effects on knowledge level about AF and its treatment, and adherence to NOAC intake were investigated. Results: Out of 830 screened AF patients, 410 were taking NOACs and 114 were eligible for inclusion. However, only 3.7% (15/410) of the total NOAC population or 13.2% of the eligible patients (15/114) were willing to participate. The main reasons for not participating were no interest to participate in general or in the concept in particular (29/99, 29%), not feeling comfortable using technology (22/99, 22%), no interest by the grandchildren or their parents (20/99, 20%), or too busy a lifestyle (12/99, 12%). App use significantly decreased towards the end of the study period in both patients (P=.009) and grandchildren (P<.001). NOAC adherence showed a taking adherence and regimen adherence of 88.6% (SD 15.4) and 81.8% (SD 18.7), respectively. Knowledge level increased from 64.6% (SD 14.7) to 70.4% (SD 10.4) after 3 months (P=.09). The app scored positively on clarity, novelty, stimulation, and attractiveness as measured with the user experience questionnaire. Patients evaluated the educational aspect of this app as a capital gain. Conclusions: Only a small proportion of the current AF population seems eligible for the innovative Health Buddies app in its current form. Although the app was positively rated by its users, a large subset of patients was not willing to participate in this study or to use the app. Efforts have to be made to expand the target group in the future.
Journal: JMIR mHealth and uHealth
ISSN: 2291-5222
Volume: 5
Number of pages: 14
Publication year:2017