What Additional Health IT Tools are Available for Patients with HIV/AIDS?
New health IT tools are available to help people with HIV/AIDS manage their physical and mental health. Patients today are joining online network, commenting on policy blogs, and receiving reminders to take their medications on their mobile phones. These health IT tools provide them the ability to connect to other HIV/AIDS patients, family and friends, their physicians, and other HIV/AIDS experts. They also allow patients to share medical information and to connect with others who have similar characteristics (age, gender, time since diagnosis), share stories and experiences, and provide and receive social and emotional support. Healthcare providers can recommend these tools to their patients and encourage their use.
Health IT technologies and resources for people with HIV/AIDS are changing rapidly and there are many new media available. As described on AIDS.gov, “new media" are interactive forms of communication that use the Internet. New media makes it possible for anyone to create, modify, and share content using relatively simple tools that are often free or inexpensive. A computer or mobile device with Internet access is all that is required.
Popular health IT tools today include online communities and social networking sites; blogs; mobile health tools; and remote monitoring devices. Below are examples of those that serve the HIV/AIDS community.
- Social Network Sites. People with HIV/AIDS can join online networks to interact with others, share stories, commentaries, videos, or news, and discuss issues of relevance to people with HIV/AIDS. Through health-related online communities such as HIVAidsTribe , and PatientsLikeMe , people with HIV/AIDS seek and offer support, connect with those who are undergoing similar challenges, and share information while maintaining their privacy. General networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace also provide people with HIV/AIDS the opportunity to connect with each other or create their own page or group.
- Blogs. A blog is a regularly updated website that typically combines text, images (graphics or video), and links to other websites. Some HIV/AIDS-related blogs allow people to share their stories and experiences, participate in discussions on HIV/AIDS related issues, ask questions, and share information and opinions. Other blogs provide policy and news updates and encourage dialogue by allowing their readers to leave comments. The Body-HIV AIDS maintains an interactive discussion board and blogs on HIV/AIDS related topics. The AIDS.gov Blog provides HIV policy information, news media, research and encourages comments on blog posts.
- Mobile health tools. Mobile tools support the viewing, receiving, and/or sending information to and from cellular phones and other wireless devices. Mobile encompasses many things - the mobile web, mobile applications, and text messaging. Mobile health tools can help patients set up medication and medical appointment reminders and receive these reminders through email or Short Message Service (SMS)/text messages. Various mobile health applications or “apps” for iPhones/Smartphones also support healthcare management. One such app is Red Ribbon, Your HIV AIDS Health Manager , a secure mobile PHR that stores information on medications, supplements, immunizations, conditions, allergies, current problems, procedures, and lab results. It allows users to access their health records and receive medication reminders. Other apps that may be useful to people with HIV/AIDS are motionPHR , a mobile PHR, and Weight Tracker , for setting weight gain or loss goals and for tracking weight.
- Remote Monitoring Devices. These are used to track and store health indicators and manage and monitor a range of health conditions. Health Buddy , for example, can collect glucose, blood pressure, and oxygen readings and transmit the data by phone or internet to the providers’ office. These devices support patient engagement and physician-patient communication.
Other media tools include podcasts, RSS feeds, wikis, and virtual worlds. More information on these new media and other tools is available on AIDS.gov.
Developed by the Health Resources and Services Administration as a resource for health centers and other safety net and ambulatory care providers who are seeking to implement health IT.