Could an App Ease the Stress of Managing Heart Failure?

A heart failure diagnosis can be an unsettling experience. Add in a deluge of new medication regimens and lifestyle changes to implement, and the entire episode can begin to feel very overwhelming for a heart failure patient.

A new smartphone app from Jana Care, called Heart Habits, was created in the hopes of streamlining cardiac care management. Now a team at Massachusetts General Hospital wants to test out the app with patients.

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Screen shots of the Heart Habits app (photo courtesy of Jana Care)

“Heart failure patients are pretty complex,” Nasrien Ibrahim, MD, a cardiologist at Mass General and one of the lead investigators, said in a recent interview with MobiHealthNews. “We’re always looking for ways to improve patient care, reduce morbidity and mortality, to keep these patients out of the hospital or the emergency department, and just improve their overall quality of life.”

The Heart Habits app prompts patients to track their symptoms twice a week and provides alerts if any signs or symptoms, such as shortness of breath, suggest a problem that may require medical attention.

The app also provides information on and tracks other important factors including weight. Patients are prompted to record their weight on a daily basis. The data is then translated into graph form, which the patients’ care teams—who have access to the app—can easily view and interpret. The Heart Habits app also enables two-way communication with a messaging feature that allows patients to contact their physicians.

Ibrahim and her team want to investigate how patients respond to using the app and if its use improves patient symptoms. Their initial pilot will include 24 patients randomized to either the app or the standard of care—paper documents given to patients to take home—for six weeks.

“If the pilot study works, meaning the app is user-friendly, we see improvement in scores, that the patients like it, and that their symptoms have improved, a larger study would involve biomarker testing, outcome measures such as hospital readmissions and emergency department visits, and, essentially, cost as well,” Ibrahim said.

Author: mghresearch

The Massachusetts General Hospital Research Institute is the largest hospital-based research program in the United States, with a community of over 8,000 people working across more than 30 institutes, centers and departments.

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