The liver epidemic needs patient education and involvement. This app empowers patients to understand risks, tests done by GPs and hospital.
Death and hospitalisations due to liver disease are still rising exponentially in the UK. This is largely due to alcohol, but other factors such as fatty liver as part of the metabolic syndrome.
Patients are keen and need to be involved in decisions involving their care in chronic diseases such as (alcoholic) liver disease. Patient involvement in design of services has been recognised as important in all areas of medicine. Involvement will be more relevant in developing services for patients with alcoholic liver disease who have high non-attendance rates and who often don't feel adequately served by medical or psychiatric services (shown by our recent patient experience surveys).
We have good feedback on a recently developed general patient information leaflet on alcoholic liver disease which helps deliver a non-judgemental patient centred approach.
A logical consequence of our work is developing an app which empowers patients to be involved in their care. Using a questions and answers type layout this application will guide patients through the information they need in their particular situation (all in plain english) and help them ask their doctors the right questions. This will enable them to make the right decisions and get the support they need.
A user experience would be for example:
A patient (P) has been told that her liver tests are abnormal and wants to know what this means:
P can chose whether she knows which specific tests are abnormal or proceed to a more general answer.
She can get answers about how frequent it is to have these abnormalities, what common causes are and how to find out about how serious it is or whether it is reversible.
P could put in amount / frequency of alcohol consumption, weight / height and other information given to her by her GP (eg. liver looks fatty / or scarred on ultrasound).
Based on questions asked and information put in, the applet can give P information such as why a referral to a specialist is useful or it can give recommendations on lifestyle changes.
As a Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist I would ensure that all clinical information and recommendations are evidence based, non judgmental as well as written in plain english.