Digital Health Transition in Rheumatology: A Qualitative Study

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Mar 5;18(5):2636. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18052636.


The global COVID-19 pandemic has led to drastic changes in the management of patients with rheumatic diseases. Due to the imminent risk of infection, monitoring intervals of rheumatic patients have prolonged. The aim of this study is to present insights from patients, rheumatologists, and digital product developers on the ongoing digital health transition in rheumatology. A qualitative and participatory semi-structured fishbowl approach was conducted to gain detailed insights from a total of 476 participants. The main findings show that digital health and remote care are generally welcomed by the participants. Five key themes emerged from the qualitative content analysis: (1) digital rheumatology use cases, (2) user descriptions, (3) adaptation to different environments of rheumatology care, and (4) potentials of and (5) barriers to digital rheumatology implementation. Codes were scaled by positive and negative ratings as well as on micro, meso, and macro levels. A main recommendation resulting from the insights is that both patients and rheumatologists need more information and education to successfully implement digital health tools into clinical routine.

PMID:33807952 | DOI:10.3390/ijerph18052636