Patient eHealth technology offers potential support for disease self-management, but the value of existing applications for patients with multiple chronic conditions (MCCs) is unclear.
To understand self-management and health care navigation challenges that patients face due to MCCs and to identify opportunities to support these patients through new and enhanced eHealth technology.
After administering a screening survey, we conducted 10 focus groups of 3–8 patients grouped by age, sex, and common chronic conditions. Patients discussed challenges associated with having MCCs and their use of (and desires from) technology to support self-management. Three investigators used standard content analysis methods to code the focus group transcripts. Emergent themes were reviewed with all collaborators, and final themes and representative quotes were validated with a sample of participants.
Fifty-three individuals with ≥3 chronic conditions and experience using technology for health-related purposes.
Focus group participants had an average of five chronic conditions. Participants reported using technology most frequently to search for health information (96 %), communicate with health care providers (92 %), track medical information (83 %), track medications (77 %), and support decision-making about treatment (55 %). Three themes emerged to guide eHealth technology development: (1) Patients with MCCs manage a high volume of information, visits, and self-care tasks; (2) they need to coordinate, synthesize, and reconcile health information from multiple providers and about different conditions; (3) their unique position at the hub of multiple health issues requires self-advocacy and expertise. Focus groups identified desirable eHealth resources and tools that reflect these themes.
Although patients with multiple health issues use eHealth technology to support self-care for specific conditions, they also desire tools that transcend disease boundaries. By addressing the holistic needs of patients with MCCs, eHealth technology can advance health care from a disease-centered to a patient-centered model.