A 50% reduction in hospital admissions and improved improved medication compliance

E-health application for chronic bowel disease a success

The e-health application MyIBDcoach has resulted in a 50% reduction in the number of hospital admissions, fewer out-patient visits and better medication compliance in patients with chronic inflammatory bowel conditions such as Crohn’s disease.  This was shown by a study involving almost one thousand patients in various Dutch hospitals, and under the direction of Maastricht UMC+. The results were published today in the leading scientific journal The Lancet. ‘This proves the added value and potential of e-health applications for the more efficient organisation of healthcare’, says gastroenterologist Marieke Pierik. 

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the two most common types of chronic inflammatory bowel disease and are usually abbreviated to IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). Over 80,000 people in the Netherlands suffer this type of condition and the numbers are increasing. IBD often develops at a relatively young age (between 15 and 40) and in many cases has a major, negative impact on the patient’s quality of life. Continuous monitoring of these patients is important in order to keep the disease under control and to keep complications to a minimum. The digital tool MyIBDcoach was developed to make this possible.

‘Self-learning’ program

MyIBDcoach is a health application that is able to support patients with chronic bowel conditions. Patients learn about their condition interactively and are able to communicate with their treatment specialist easily, while that specialist (physician or nurse) is able to monitor the patient from a distance and take action where necessary. MyIBDcoach is an intelligent program that also ‘learns’ from data entered by the patient. In addition to the tool, the patient care process was also adapted.

A 50% reduction in hospital admissions

Almost 1000 patients took part in the study, approximately half of whom were given access to MyIBDcoach. Ultimately, this group underwent fewer hospital admissions (50% reduction), fewer outpatient visits (39% reduction) and showed improved medication compliance relative to the control group. The patients also reported experiencing high quality healthcare.

More efficient health care

‘The tool therefore makes a useful contribution towards the care of patients with chronic bowel condition’, says Pierik. ‘If we are to keep costs affordable in the future, structural changes must be made in healthcare. E-health applications such as MyIBDcoach are highly suitable tools with which to make the primary healthcare process more efficient without losing sight of the patient’s interests and needs.’

MyIBDcoach was developed in close cooperation with doctors, IBD nursing staff, CCUVN (Netherlands Association for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), Sananet and Ferring B.V. MyIBDcoach is suitable for monitoring all IBD patients. The results of the study were recently presented during the Digestive Disease Week in the USA and at the European Crohn’s and Colitis Organisation (ECCO) conference in Barcelona.