Telemedicine has been successfully used to provide inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients with health care services remotely via the implementation of information and communications technology, which uses safe and feasible apps that have been well accepted by patients in remission.
However, the design of telemedicine apps in this setting involves difficulties that hinder the adherence of patients to the follow-up plans and the efficacy of these systems to improve disease activity and quality of life. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) comprises ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn disease (CD). The incidence of IBD is increasing gradually, and the prevalence of IBD in Spain is now 1 per 400 inhabitants.
Due to its chronic nature, IBD is associated with high levels of school and work disability, interference with social activities, and impairment of quality of life. For these reasons, IBD generates a significant medical, social, and financial impact. Therefore, patients with IBD must undergo continuous and individualized monitoring to prevent structural damage and complications in the medium and long terms.
This study aimed to evaluate the development of a Web platform, Telemonitoring of Crohn Disease and Ulcerative Colitis (TECCU), for remote monitoring of patients with complex IBD and the design of a clinical trial involving IBD patients who received standard care (G_Control), nurse-assisted telephone care (G_NT), or care based on distance monitoring (G_TECCU).
Researcher describe the development of a remote monitoring system and the difficulties encountered in designing the platform. A 3-arm randomized controlled trial was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of this Web platform in disease management compared with G_NT and G_Control.
According to the schedules established for the medical treatment initiated (corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, or biological agents), a total of 63 patients (21 patients from each group) answered periodic questionnaires regarding disease activity, quality of life, therapeutic adherence, adverse effects, satisfaction, work productivity, and social activities. Blood and stool analyses (fecal calprotectin) were performed periodically.
On the basis of the results of these tests in G_TECCU, alerts were generated in a Web platform with adapted action plans, including changes in medication and frequency of follow-up. The main issues found were the development of an easy-to-use Web platform, the selection of validated clinical scores and objective biomarkers for remote monitoring, and the design of a clinical trial to compare the 3 main follow-up methods evaluated to date in IBD.
The development of a Web-based remote management program for safe and adequate control of IBD proved challenging. The results of this clinical trial will advance knowledge regarding the effectiveness of TECCU Web platform for improvement of disease activity, quality of life, and use of health care resources in complex IBD patients.