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Study: Online health communities help patients with chronic illness

July 01, 2013
Healthcare Consulting By LW Consulting Inc.

This blog has previously discussed how doctors and nurses are becoming more reliant on mobile devices, and how such innovations can be beneficial to patients. As technology continues to evolve, it is helpful not only for care providers to have more online access, but also for those being treated to have more online freedom as well.

Specifically, when patients are able to use an online health community (OHC), they can connect to those suffering from similar afflictions or even doctors and nurses. An OHC is an internet-based platform where individuals use blogs, chats, forums and wikis to communicate. According to recent research from Radboud University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, OHCs can be powerful tools to assist patients suffering from chronic illness.

Specifically, researchers studied an OHC that was dedicated to individuals with Parkinson's disease. With the online option, the study found that geographical distances were bridged and collaboration could take place across "institutions and traditional echelons."

"OHCs enhance patient-centered care by improved access to personalized information, emotional support, and patient participation," study authors wrote.

The researchers added that it is not always easy for healthcare professionals and patients to connect with one another. To that same extent, individuals who are ill might appreciate hearing from patients who are experiencing the same things they are.

Medical facilities of all sizes throughout the nation are working toward implementing new systems that allow organizations to run smoothly while still highlighting quality patient care. Introducing an OHC might not be the correct answer for every hospital, which is where healthcare consulting services can be beneficial. With a healthcare IT consulting expert, facilities can find the most relevant innovations to keep their staff and patients connected.