CAN WE MANAGE LONG-TERM CONDITIONS ONLINE?
Long-term conditions are becoming more prevalent in the population as people are living longer. Patients with long-term conditions now account for approximately 50% of all GP appointments, 64% of all outpatient appointments and over 70% of all inpatient bed days. The government released a report in August 2021 stating that managing long-term conditions online is a viable alternative and that the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the limitations of the current system. Being able to manage long-term conditions online would significantly relieve pressure on the NHS, as well as saving money and allowing people to feel more in control of their own health.
People with long-term conditions have been found to be at high-risk of suffering from Covid-19 complications and are therefore unlikely to visit a GP surgery in person for treatment as the pandemic continues. This had led to many choosing not to receive the help that they need in fear of contracting Covid-19 which will likely be problematic for the individuals condition development and could cause long-term strain on the NHS.
A recent study has found that an app-based method used to manage osteoarthritis saw patients’ pain levels reduce by 41% after six weeks, compared to just 6% with regular in-person care. This is a promising finding which supports the use of online healthcare and shows that online methods can be as, if not more, effective than in-person methods. Indeed, positive outcomes have been reported by KiActiv® clients, including a 67-year-old male with type 2 diabetes, who reduced his blood sugar to pre-diabetic levels, and a 56-year-old male with obesity, reporting that he lost 3 stone, as well as starting and completing couch to 5k. You can read more about our work with people with diabetes and our Cardiac Rehabilitation Pilot with RLBUHT here.
KiActiv® falls into the online healthcare category and is one of few services which offers support for a wide range of long-term conditions, and unlike many others, is available through the NHS. Our service has proven to be effective in clinical studies and the real-world environment of the NHS, with 96% of users improving their physical activity during the 12-week programme, and 95% saying they would recommend KiActiv® to friends or family. One client said:
“If I had a group of people in front of me and they were thinking about doing it or and the opportunity I would really promote it because it’s a great thing” (50-year-old female with type 2 diabetes).
Moving past the pandemic, the continued use of online methods of care for long-term conditions could make seeking treatment a far less stressful ordeal. With GP appointments reserved for those who would are unable to receive the help and support they need via an app or online service. This would improve in-person care by reducing wait times and enabling patients to receive face-to-face appointments without having to wait weeks or months.
It could be argued that those with long-term health conditions tend to fall into older age groups, who are perceived as not being as competent with technology or have internet access. However, recent figures show that almost the entire nation has access to the internet with an estimated 62.87 million monthly users in 2021. Brits aged 75 and over using internet has nearly doubled in the past seven years; increasing from 29% in 2013 to over 50% in 2020. This combats the idea that the ageing population do not use technology. KiActiv® has been able to reach a broad demographic, with our clients ranging in age from 13 to 92 years of age, with over half of users aged 60 and up.
This highlights how healthcare is evolving, and how online management for long-term conditions is becoming an increasingly important component of healthcare services within the NHS. At KiActiv® we provide a fully digital, mentor-guided service to help individuals self-manage their long-term conditions. By providing users with the tools to effectively self-manage their physical activity, KiActiv® supports sustainable positive behaviour change, without prescription or compulsion. Feedback from our clients shows that those who did not regularly use the internet before are improving their digital skills, with one of our clients, a 68-year-old female with COPD, stating that she has “fallen in love with her phone”. If you feel like you are ready to make the step from face-to-face condition management to receiving support online, you can register your interest today here.
We are here to help you understand the value in everyday physical activity, helping you to optimise your movement to unlock the endless health benefits it provides and be in control of your own health!
The KiActiv® Team