Use of eHealth and mHealth technology by persons with multiple sclerosis

Ruth Ann Marrie, Stella Leung, Tuula Tyry, Gary R. Cutter, Robert Fox, Amber Salter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Health communication has evolved substantially over the last few years as the field of electronic health (eHealth) technologies has emerged. It is unknown what demographic and clinical characteristics are associated with use of eHealth technologies in MS. As these technologies are more widely adopted in health settings, it is important that health care providers understand who is using them, and to recognize potential disparities if they exist. Objective: We aimed to examine the use of eHealth technologies among persons with multiple sclerosis (MS), including the adoption of mobile Health (mHealth) applications (apps) and telehealth, perceived benefits of using mHealth apps, and sociodemographic and clinical characteristics associated with use of these technologies. Methods: In the spring 2017, we surveyed participants in the North American Research Committee on Multiple Sclerosis (NARCOMS) Registry about their use of eHealth technologies using questions adapted from the Health Information National Trends (HINTS) 4 Cycle 4 survey. Participants reported their internet use, electronic devices used, use of health related software apps and perceived benefits from using those apps, and their interest in exchanging medical information with a health care professional electronically. We used descriptive statistics to report use of eHealth technologies and multivariable logistic regression to evaluate factors associated with use of electronic devices, use of mHealth apps, telehealth use, and perceived benefits of using mHealth apps. Results: Of 6423 participants included in the analysis most participants were female, and white, with a mean (SD) age of 59.7 (10.1) years. Overall, 5408 (84.2%) had exchanged medical information with a health professional most often using a secure online portal (1839, 28.6%), followed by email (1327, 20.7%). of the 5529 smartphone and tablet users, 2556 (46.2%) used a mHealth app. Factors associated with a higher likelihood of reporting use of smartphones or tablets, mHealth apps and with perceived benefits of using these apps included online survey response, younger age, having comorbidities, and higher income and education levels. Conclusion: Use of eHealth technologies is common in the MS population and facilitates the exchange of health care information with providers. Use of mHealth apps is perceived to have health benefits. However, use of eHealth and mHealth technologies varies substantially with sociodemographic factors, and health care providers need to be aware of these disparities as these technologies are increasingly leveraged in health care settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-19
Number of pages7
JournalMultiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders
Volume27
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • eHealth
  • mHealth
  • Multiple sclerosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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