Current healthcare systems, with their focus on the clinic visit, do not meet the needs of many patients with chronic conditions.
Researchers designed a web based diabetes support programme for patients at the University of Washington that included access to their medical records, secure email with their care providers, and interactive disease management tools. Patients were interviewed about their experiences before and after they used the programme.
Patients felt valued and less limited in the care they sought from providers after using the programme. They also felt safer having access to their personal health information.
However, patients were also disappointed when the programme did not work as they expected. This suggests that web based programmes may have particular challenges in fufilling some patients expectations in comparison to traditional visits to the doctor, say the authors.
"Our work supports further study of web based disease management programmes," they write. "In particular, our study shows the importance of early and candid discussions between patients and providers about what a web based programme can and cannot deliver."