Feasibility, Efficacy, and Efficiency of eHealth-Supported Pediatric Asthma Care: Six-Month Quasi-Experimental Single-Arm Pretest-Posttest Study

Mattiènne Ricard van der Kamp*, Pamela Reimering Hartgerink, Jean Driessen, Bernard Thio, Hermie Hermens, Monique Tabak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Background:
Early detection of loss of asthma control can effectively reduce the burden of the disease. However, broad implementation in clinical practice has not been accomplished so far. We are in need of research investigating the operationalization of eHealth pediatric asthma care in practice, which can provide the most potential benefits in terms of adoption, efficiency, and effectiveness.

Objective:
The aim of this study was to investigate the technical and clinical feasibility, including an exploration of the efficacy and cost-efficiency, of an eHealth program implemented in daily clinical pediatric asthma practice.

Methods:
We designed an eHealth-supported pediatric asthma program facilitating early detection of loss of asthma control while increasing symptom awareness and self-management. In the 6-month program, asthma control was monitored by 4 health care professionals (HCPs) by using objective home measurements and the web-based Puffer app to allow timely medical anticipation and prevent treatment delay. Technical feasibility was assessed by technology use, system usability, and technology acceptance. Clinical feasibility was assessed by participation and patient-reported health and care outcomes and via a focus group with HCPs regarding their experiences of implementing eHealth in daily practice. The efficacy and cost-efficiency were explored by comparing pretest-posttest program differences in asthma outcomes (asthma control, lung function, and therapy adherence) and medical consumption.

Results:
Of 41 children, 35 children with moderate-to-severe asthma volunteered for participation. With regard to technical feasibility, the Puffer app scored a good usability score of 78 on the System Usability Scale and a score of 70 for technology acceptance on a scale of 1 to 100. Approximately 75% (18/24) of the children indicated that eHealth helped them to control their asthma during the program. HCPs indicated that home measurements and real time communication enabled them to make safe and substantiated medical decisions during symptom manifestations. With an average time commitment of 15 minutes by patients, eHealth care led to a 80% gross reduction (from €71,784 to €14,018, US $1=€0.85) in health care utilization, 8.6% increase (from 18.6 to 20.2, P=.40) in asthma control, 25.0% increase (from 2.8 to 3.5, P=.04) in the self-management level, and 20.4% improved (from 71.2 to 76.8, P=.02) therapy adherence.

Conclusions:
eHealth asthma care seems to be technically and clinically feasible, enables safe remote care, and seems to be beneficial for pediatric asthma care in terms of health outcomes and health care utilization. Follow-up research should focus on targeted effectiveness studies with the lessons learned, while also enabling individualization of eHealth for personalized health care.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere24634
Number of pages13
JournalJMIR Formative Research
Volume5
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • Telemedicine
  • Feasibility studies
  • Child
  • Self-management
  • asthma
  • patient acceptance of health care
  • ambulatory care
  • Remote sensing technology
  • cost-benefit analysis
  • health care costs

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