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Digital health: a new dimension in rheumatology patient care

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The new digital health innovations have opened up several opportunities to help the clinicians, patients and other caregivers of rheumatology healthcare system in maximizing efficiencies resulting in better patient outcomes. In the global context, digital health technology has the potential to bridge the distance gap between all the key stakeholders involved in rheumatology health care. In this review, we update on the recent advances in the field of digital health and highlight unique features of these technologies which would help in routine care. Application of technology in any form to enable, facilitate or enhance the quality of care is the foundation of digitised care. The components could be smartphone apps, sensors, video, social media platforms or messenger platforms, wearables or a combination of these enabling healthcare delivery and overcoming the constraints of distance, location and time. Digital therapeutics have started evolving and an important step in this direction is the involvement of FDA in the approval process. Speciality specific apps, personalised patient education as per disease status, remote specialist consultations or virtual health coach to guide on lifestyle modifications are some of the developments which have been facilitated by increased digitization in all walks of life. Assisted care with the help of robots rendering care in the hospitals or an intelligent robot guiding a patient by voice and visual sense at home are already at the threshold of entering the mainstream of patient care. Wearable devices equipped with powerful sensors are coming handy in keeping a watch on patient symptoms all the time and providing useful insights on disease progression, clinical response or complications. In chronic care such as rheumatology the implications, possibilities and benefits seem unprecedented. Real time data analytics and artificial intelligence are helping the clinicians, healthcare systems and policy makers optimise the resources and improve patient outcomes. Digitization of healthcare has gained momentum in the recent years and it is envisaged that it could be a catalyst to change, bridge the quality of care and most important democratise the healthcare access across the globe. However, more data, efficacy and objective results are needed which would be fulfilled by ongoing observational studies, clinical trials, systematic review and meta-analysis to further establish the role of digital health in the realms of patient care.

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Authors and Affiliations



Concept of the review: both authors. Drafting the first manuscript: SK. Critical revision: VR. Approval of the final version: both authors.

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Correspondence to Vinod Ravindran.

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Suchitra Kataria declares that he has no conflict of interest. Vinod Ravindran declares that he has no conflict of interest.

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This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

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Kataria, S., Ravindran, V. Digital health: a new dimension in rheumatology patient care. Rheumatol Int 38, 1949–1957 (2018).

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