Can a smartphone help improve your arthritis treatment?

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curtis pcori grantUAB investigators are teaming with the popular arthritis support community for a study that will use electronic devices to collect patient information that may help reveal the best treatments for each individual.

The study will use electronic devices such as smartphones, laptops and tablet computers to gather feedback during a clinical visit or at home via the Internet about a patient’s well being and any changes that may have occurred in his or her condition — a process called patient-reported outcome. Investigators can use the aggregate data to better assess treatment options.

“The idea is to facilitate the interaction between patients and their health-care providers, gather pertinent information and establish the most appropriate treatment regimen for that patient,” said Jeffry Curtis, M.D., associate professor in the Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology.  “It will give them a way to have their voices heard by both their personal health-care provider, the overall research community and policymakers in the delivery of medical care.”

New biologic medications that target specific components of the immune system have proven effective for most patients, with major improvements in quality of life, but at a high and recurring cost, Curtis said. So inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis are a focus for comparative effectiveness research.

More and better information about the effectiveness of such treatments will be a valuable resource, and Curtis says UAB’s affiliation with CreakyJoints provides access to a large number of engaged people with the conditions being studied.  The effort is funded by a $1 million award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

“We want to create an environment in which we are continually collecting data on a long-term, ongoing basis,” Curtis said. “Armed with that data, we can continue to fine-tune treatment strategies with a goal of remission of the disease.”

Global Healthy Living Foundation’s CreakyJoints is the most popular arthritis social community in the world, with more than 67,000 members, and the most popular arthritis Facebook page in the world. It provides education, support and advocacy for patients with arthritic disease through social media, smartphone apps and events.