Receiving much-needed social support for heart patients is now in the palm of their hands
Vancouver, February 3, 2016 – Facing a life-changing medical diagnosis can be daunting and isolating, but a new mobile app could change the experience. Researchers at St. Paul’s Hospital and Simon Fraser University have completed a study of a peer-to-peer support application which allows heart patients to connect with each other, whether they are down the road or across the country.
Social support from other patients is a vital part in recovering from heart disease as it provides the emotional connection and personal expertise that can only come from someone who has gone through similar experiences. “With escalating health care costs, we are constantly looking for new ways to improve patient care. There is an untapped resource - patients who have been through the experience of heart disease. We found with this study that patients could effectively ‘crowd-source’ the collective wisdom of other heart patients to help improve their self-care and manage their disease,” says lead researcher Dr. Scott Lear, a Professor at Simon Fraser University and the Pfizer/Heart and Stroke Foundation Chair in Cardiovascular Prevention Research at St. Paul’s Hospital.
The project was led by the Heart and Stroke Foundation to study the application developed by Curatio, a digital mobile health company which started in Vancouver. The application provides a secure, private personal network that works on mobile phones so patients who sign up can have access to their network anywhere, anytime. Users can interact with others to share their experience, knowledge, manage their condition and even connect with an expert from the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
The pilot study included women with heart disease from across Canada. After ten weeks, women reported being better able to manage their health through the peer support and knowledge they gained. “I really enjoyed the ability to connect with other women, regardless of where they lived, who could truly understand and relate to what I’m faced with on a daily basis,” says patient Jan Carter, who had a heart attack in January 2014. “We learned from each other what the challenges and victories are in managing our conditions and realized we don’t have to find our new ‘healthcare normal’ in silence, in a silo. This application is an awesome tool and one that has enormous potential to help anyone with heart disease in Canada.”
Dr. Andrew Krahn, a St. Paul’s Hospital cardiologist, notes, “Patients often feel isolated in managing their disease. Even in urban areas, patients still have challenges to find others who have faced similar experiences. This project brought these patients together and improved their knowledge and confidence of their disease.”
With the positive evaluation, the Heart and Stroke Foundation is launching its community on the Curatio platform across Canada as part of its Promote Recovery program. St. Paul’s Hospital researchers will continue monitoring the role of this technology in the future of patient care.
“With technology, we can re-look at how health care is delivered as we don’t need to be restricted to helping patients who live in our own city,” says Lear.
This study was funded through the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
About Providence Health Care
Providence Health Care (PHC) is one of Canada's largest faith-based health care organizations, operating 16 health care facilities in Greater Vancouver. PHC operates one of two adult academic health science centres in the province – St. Paul’s Hospital – performs cutting-edge research in more than 30 clinical specialties, and focuses its services on six “populations of emphasis”: cardio-pulmonary risks and illnesses, HIV/AIDS, mental health, renal risks and illness, specialized needs in aging and urban health and is home to the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. www.providencehealthcare.org.
About The Heart and Stroke Foundation
The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s mission is to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery. A volunteer-based health charity, we strive to tangibly improve the health of every Canadian family, every day. Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke. Together we will make it happen. heartandstroke.ca
Curatio helps make every day better for patients and their families. The Curatio digital health platform provides private, support networks along with personalized tracking tools that make daily disease management easier. The award-winning company, which started in Vancouver, has been noted for its innovative, effective approach to patient engagement. The platform is available on mobile and desktop at www.curatio.me. No patient should be alone – Curatio is the world’s first social health prescription with a mission to put support in the palms of every patient on the planet.
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For more information:
Senior Communications Specialist – Media Relations
Providence Health Care
Tel: 604-682-2344 extension 66987
Dr. Scott MacDonald, Providence Crosstown Clinic