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What's the key to empowering patients with Chronic Heart Failure?

Chronic Heart Failure (CHF) affects approximately 5.1 million people in the US and 900,000 people in the UK each year, costing an estimated $32billion (£20 billion).

The demand for care is expected to rise dramatically over the next few years, along with healthcare costs, but the amount of caregivers available is unlikely to be able to keep up.

In order to deal with this discrepancy, e-health applications are starting to play a more prominent role and at JiveWorld 2014 we heard from Dr Folkert Asselbergs, consultant cardiologist at University Medical Centre Utrecht, about how his smart health application is being used to monitor and empower patients in their battle against the disease.

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Dr Asselbergs is the co-founder of EMPOWER, a patient-led telemedicine platform that aims to improve external engagement by "establishing a partnership with the patient and increasing awareness through education and feedback."

Partnered with 24care, the platform promotes the idea of self-management, helping patients to "take control of their disease" by integrating several engaging and collaborative functions.

As strange as it might sound, Dr Asselbergs believes that gamification could be a key ingredient. Compliance with long-term treatment for chronic condition is currently only around 50 per cent due to factors such as the patient's perceptions of the treatment benefits, poor patient-physician communication and a lack of social support.

To deal with this, Dr Asselbergs explained that "patients have to be stimulated," so by offering rewards for things like taking medicines and attending check-ups, it is hoped patients will be more likely to stay on top of their treatment.

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The platform also offers video consulting and messaging options, which enables communication between the patient and physician to take place at any time. This is an important element, as sufferers of chronic heart disease are "mostly older people who are less mobile and therefore rely on others to bring them to the clinic."

It also provides a range of contact numbers, forums and online questionnaires and all information is shared with the patient's physician, meaning both parties can keep track of his or her progress.

The platform's infrastructure is being delivered by Jive Software, a provider of communication and collaboration solutions that is involved with several other healthcare applications. Although currently being piloted, there are plans to roll EMPOWER out officially to four or five hospitals next year.