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Health Online Self-Management

Health & Disease Online Self-Management Systems

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Instructor - Norm Archer, Special Advisor, McMaster eBusiness Research Center( MeRC). McMaster University

This presentation focuses on recent developments in health and disease self-management in today’s environment – what is happening, successes and failures, barriers and facilitators, and where online support for disease prevention and self-management is likely to evolve in the future.

Eighty-six percent of Canadians are Internet users and fifty-eight percent access the Internet via mobile phones.  Seventy percent of Canadians search for medical or health-related information online, and the Internet, rather than physicians, is the first place that Canadians go for information about health or illness for themselves and their families.  Through mobile phones, many users have become accustomed to being in continuous touch with the world, and “there’s an app for that” helps them to be more in touch with personal health needs.  This includes monitoring their lifestyle, which directly affects health (e.g. exercise, activities, diet, mood, smoking cessation, etc.)  

In addition, many people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, and so on, use apps and devices for disease self-management, where they monitor and record health status indicators such as blood glucose, heart rate, blood pressure, pain, etc.  This is not new, and people with diabetes mellitus, for example, have for many years learned to self-manage their health status by making medication and diet adjustments that allow them to live healthier and more productive lives.  The closest family members of patients with chronic illnesses can also play a significant role by offering advice, encouragement, and assistance to such patients.  But the Internet adds another dimension since it can include a patient’s entire circle of care (family, physicians, etc.) as part of a continuous process of health and disease self-management rather than through just occasional interactions. 

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