Digital solutions for rheumatoid arthritis communities across Europe
As the era of digitisation continues to reshape our private and professional lives, it has become natural for patients to seek information or advice about their health online. At Roche, we are committed to delivering innovative solutions to improve and transform patients’ lives across the globe.
Three examples of our digital solutions, all tailored to address local challenges, have supported people in Europe who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a debilitating autoimmune disease.
UK: Supporting people with RA to manage their disease with a mobile app
In the UK, more than 690,000 people are diagnosed with RA and receive treatment.1 Working with National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS), Roche recognised that in the UK, RA patients needed to be able to more easily track and proactively manage their disease, and decided to find a digital solution that would help them do this. Roche UK worked together with the NRAS to develop of a mobile app which allows users to monitor their disease with self-assessments in between consultations.
The app is called Know your DAS as in the management of RA doctors routinely use the Disease Activity Score (DAS) to show whether there are signs of reduced or stopped disease activity. The DAS28 assessment calculator used in the app shows how well RA is controlled and indicates the level of discomfort that the patient is experiencing. This information helps physicians make treatment adjustments or changes, ensuring patients receive optimal therapy.
The app includes key features such as a health diary that allows patients to record pain, fatigue or swelling. It further offers video guides and gives users the option to take notes on medication or exercise that will allow long-term tracking of the user’s well-being. Since its launch in the UK, the app has been downloaded over 1,000 times and has been well received by both patients (users) and health care practitioners. The app is available for UK users on iOS and Android.
France: Disease information portal becomes platform for largest online community for people with RA
In 2009, Roche France recognised the need for an information portal offering clear, easy to understand and impartial advice to help educate people affected by RA about factors related to life with the disease – for example, diet and exercise, links to other patient support groups or people also living with the disease, or advice on practical issues such as managing RA when planning a holiday. The blog Polyarthrite-Rhumatoide.fr was launched later that year, and has since become the largest online RA patient community in France with more than 18,000 followers on the related Facebook page.
With new content posted several times a week, the blog focuses on providing advice on general well-being, updates on medical news and features interviews with health professionals or patient testimonials. What sports or physical activity are possible when I have RA? How can I prevent other risks? Why can accepting help be a relief? These questions are among the topics addressed in the blog and provide patients with supportive insights beyond ‘traditional’ disease information. The blog is also a platform where patients can read about the personal experiences of others who suffer from RA. Patient stories and disease management recommendations are amongst the most popular posts and show the value of a virtual community for people with RA.
Denmark: Online ‘RA Portal’ is country's most comprehensive information platform for patients and caregivers
People with RA are affected by the disease in many more ways than just in physical terms. In Denmark, the Roche team noticed that there was a serious lack of RA-specific information for patients and caregivers and decided to launch an information and resource website.
In collaboration with healthcare practitioners and patient advocacy groups, Roche Denmark developed Leddegigt Portalen (‘RA portal’), a website that contains educational materials, patient testimonials and unbiased information on treatment options. With over 400 pages, this comprehensive site helps readers to gain insights into what it means to live with RA, not only for patients, but for the partners, relatives and friends of those affected. It also addresses personal situations that may raise doubts for people with RA, such as employment or starting a family. This portal has become a ‘one-stop-shop’ and one of the most comprehensive RA websites in Denmark.
1. National Audit Office. Services for people with rheumatoid arthritis. Available at: https://www.nao.org.uk/report/services-for-people-with-rheumatoid-arthritis/. Last accessed: September 2016.