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Digital Health: Providing Opportunity For Advocacy Groups & A Community For Patients
Jun 16, 2017

The advent of the digital world has revolutionized the accessibility of health information for people across the globe. No longer must patients wait for doctor appointments in order to begin their diagnosis process. Within a matter of seconds people can have search results from sites across the internet on everything from the common cold to multiple sclerosis. This power to equip ourselves with instantaneous knowledge is transformative in developing patient understanding of chronic conditions. But how do we harness this to ensure that patients receive reliable and constructive information?

Neil Johnson, Executive Director of Croí, a heart and stroke charity in Ireland, believes that digital and social media is a hugely important tool for vast numbers of patients, and a way for advocacy groups, like Croí, to communicate with these patients directly. Media found and consumed through the internet has the capacity to play a key role in patient education, self-care, management and therapy compliance. Social media also allows advocacy groups to create wider reaching networks than ever before, such as The International Heart Hub (iHHub), of which Croí is a member. The iHHub is the first global non-profit organization that brings together and supports the creation of patient groups from every country in the world to raise awareness of heart failure and improve lives.

So what’s next?

Digital technology has greatly contributed to improvements in patient care, patient monitoring and patient communication with their primary caregiver, GP or specialist. As we see further advances, like telemedicine, there is real opportunity for all patients to connect with highly specialized healthcare professionals whether they are down the street or across the globe. It’s exciting to see how the role of patient advocacy groups will help shape communication around these advances and enable patients to gain the support that they need.

There is a vast spectrum of needs across the different chronic diseases, but overall we face huge awareness and education gaps that need to be addressed urgently. By supporting patient organizations in providing this knowledge in a way that is readily accessible and relatable for patients across the globe, healthcare organizations like Novartis can make a real difference to improve patient outcomes and quality of life.