A provincial study looking into the benefits of Internet-based disease management is putting a call out for local participants.
The study asks people suffering from multiple chronic diseases to answer a short daily web-based questionnaire about their symptoms. Based on their answers, a program determines whether they should get a follow up phone call from a nurse with a specialty in chronic disease management within 24 hours.
Josh MacIver, a Prince George-based research co-ordinator with the British Columbia Alliance on Telehealth Policy and Research, said it can often be difficult to treat people with multiple chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease or lung disease.
"People who have two diseases, those two diseases work synergistically to create symptoms," MacIver said. "We try to bring both of those diseases together and understand how both of them affect the person."
MacIver said the goal of the study is two-fold: to see if the patients get better care by monitoring their symptoms daily and to do a better job of managing healthcare resources.
"A lot of people will go see their physician at the smallest sign of something or on the opposite side of the spectrum a lot of people will wait until it becomes an absolute dire need," he said. "Using this, it allows us to gauge how they're doing and either get people in before they get to those crazy circumstances or stop people from taking away the attention of the physician when its unnecessary."
By answering their question and knowing if there's a problem a nurse will call, MacIver said the study also provides piece of mind to patients. When the nurse calls, she is able to go into more depth with questions about the symptoms and could recommend the patient visit their doctor or try something different, depending on the circumstances.
The study is hoping to get more than 300 participants province-wide, but since it launched in 2011 only about 130 people have agreed to take part.
MacIver expects Prince George will be a useful community for possible study recruits because there is no chronic disease management clinic here yet.
"We're kind of a different community because we are big enough that I think we could sustain some of these chronic disease management facilities, but we're small enough that we don't get them," he said.
Those interested in finding out more information about joining the program can contact Josh MacIver at 1-855-444-1265.