We are delighted to present a new article recently published in PLOS Digital Health by a two-centre UK authorship, with Professor Porter’s student, Dr Malik Althobiani, as main co-author at
University College London, along with Dr Rebecca Shuttleworth from the Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust:
Supporting self-management for patients with Interstitial Lung Diseases: Utility and acceptability of digital devices
The study aimed to understand how patients with Interstitial Lung Diseases (ILD) use digital devices for self-monitoring, examining device usage, experiences, perceived benefits, and barriers. A team designed a comprehensive survey, involving 104 ILD patients, primarily those with lung fibrosis, including 52% with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). While pulse oximeters were a popular choice among our participants, some also found handheld spirometers helpful. Additionally, many also used smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches equipped with health apps, all of which helped them feel more in control and reassured about managing their health. Yet, for some, the stress of variable readings highlighted the need for more support and guidance. Worsening breathlessness and low oxygen saturation were key triggers for seeking help, often from nurse specialists. The study suggests that patients can adapt to using technical devices, but their perceptions of home-monitoring vary, highlighting the need for personalised support and assessment.
The research underscores the potential for patient expertise to influence healthcare priorities, particularly in integrating digital approaches into self-management programs. However, it emphasises the necessity for tailored digital care pathways that consider individual needs, especially for those with chronic conditions and in remote communities.
Althobiani (pictured left) emphasises the transformative potential of integrating digital tools in chronic disease management, “Our findings underscore the profound reassurance patients gain from digital health monitoring, yet they also remind us of the critical need for precision medicine for individualised patient support, ensuring that every patient’s journey is as informed and empowered as possible.”.
This research opens the door for further exploration into the cost-effectiveness of digital health strategies. It clarifies that digital devices complement rather than replace traditional healthcare models and calls for continued integration of these devices into healthcare practices.