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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 7  |  Page : 433-434

Digital health practices in rheumatology

Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Faculty of Medicine, Cukurova University, Adana, Turkey

Date of Submission05-Jul-2021
Date of Acceptance17-Jul-2021
Date of Web Publication21-May-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Ilke Coskun Benlidayi
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Faculty of Medicine, Cukurova University, Adana
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/injr.injr_148_21

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How to cite this article:
Benlidayi IC. Digital health practices in rheumatology. Indian J Rheumatol 2022;17, Suppl S3:433-4

How to cite this URL:
Benlidayi IC. Digital health practices in rheumatology. Indian J Rheumatol [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Feb 8];17, Suppl S3:433-4. Available from:

Dear Editor,

Over the last decade, digital health tools have been widely used by healthcare providers to improve use of healthcare data, to optimize workflows/efficiency, and to clarify/refine diagnoses in several health conditions.[1] Moreover, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has led to a substantial need for digital health practices. Kernder et al., in their web-based national survey, examined patients' and physicians' perspectives on digitalization in rheumatology during the COVID-19 pandemic.[2] Most of the participants reported that digital health applications are useful in the management of rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. On the other hand, too little information concerning suitable/available digital health applications, lack of usability, poor quality, and too little evidence for their benefits were stated as the main barriers for digital health applications usage.[2] In this regard, it is essential to find which digital health software tool is appropriate and safe for which clinical condition or patient.[1] Electronic health records, artificial intelligence/machine learning, sensors/wearable monitors, video consultations/virtual visits, smartphone applications, digital therapeutics, and social media platforms are some examples of digital health components. A combination of these tools could also be used to provide healthcare delivery and to overcome distance, location, and time constraints.[3]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, monitoring intervals of rheumatic patients have prolonged; many face-to-face appointments had to be postponed/cancelled or were changed to telehealth consultations.[2],[4] Virtual consulting has been widely used for patients with rheumatic diseases [Figure 1]. Virtual visits can be used for assessment, goal setting, and tele-education such as remote physiotherapy advice in patients with chronic rheumatic conditions.[5]
Figure 1: Scientific cartoon

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Digital health technologies in rheumatology practices have certain benefits both for patients and for clinicians. Mobile health applications are helpful in monitoring patient-reported outcomes, tracking medication, diet, and lifestyle. Digital therapeutics may provide timely medication adjustments and can improve adherence and outcomes. Artificial intelligence/machine learning has promising performance in many aspects of rheumatology practice.[6] Digital health practices can also help patients with self-management. The European League Against Rheumatism 2021 recommendations for the implementation of self-management strategies in patients with inflammatory arthritis pointed out the essentiality of digital healthcare in supporting and optimizing self-management. It is stated that healthcare professionals should be aware of digital health sources and implement digital healthcare into supported self-management protocols where appropriate and available.[7]

Overall, there is favorable attitude of patients, rheumatologists, as well as digital health developers toward digital health transition in rheumatology.[4] Implementing digital health in daily clinical practice would be of great benefit provided that appropriate, usable, and quality digital health tools are used.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Auerbach AD. Evaluating digital health tools-prospective, experimental, and real World. JAMA Intern Med 2019;179:840-1.  Back to cited text no. 1
Kernder A, Morf H, Klemm P, Vossen D, Haase I, Mucke J, et al. Digital rheumatology in the era of COVID-19: Results of a national patient and physician survey. RMD Open 2021;7:e001548.  Back to cited text no. 2
Kataria S, Ravindran V. Digital health: A new dimension in rheumatology patient care. Rheumatol Int 2018;38:1949-57.  Back to cited text no. 3
Mühlensiepen F, Kurkowski S, Krusche M, Mucke J, Prill R, Heinze M, et al. Digital health transition in rheumatology: A qualitative study. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2021;18:2636.  Back to cited text no. 4
Coskun Benlidayi I. Virtual consulting for remote physiotherapy advice in chronic rheumatic diseases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Indian J Rheumatol 2021 [Epub ahead of print]. [doi: 10.4103/injr.injr_292_20].  Back to cited text no. 5
Solomon DH, Rudin RS. Digital health technologies: Opportunities and challenges in rheumatology. Nat Rev Rheumatol 2020;16:525-35.  Back to cited text no. 6
Nikiphorou E, Santos EJF, Marques A, Böhm P, Bijlsma JW, Daien CI, et al. 2021 EULAR recommendations for the implementation of self-management strategies in patients with inflammatory arthritis. Ann Rheum Dis 2021;80:1278-85.  Back to cited text no. 7


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