The EmERGE Validation Study is up and Running!
Zagreb and Brighton enrolled their first patients to the EmERGE validation study in the month of April 2017 and we are off to a flying start. Twenty-seven patients joined the study in the first month but more, much more than this, our enrolled patients seem to love the fact that their health care might be managed their way. The purpose of the EmERGE validation study is to assess the impact of the EmERGE mHealth platform on patient self-management and empowerment in those living with stable HIV infection. This is being assessed at five clinical sites (Antwerp, Barcelona, Brighton, Lisbon and Zagreb). As a concept the processes behind the EmERGE mHealth platform may seem simple: create a system that can link securely into the health records of a patient, select and review the data required, then send the data and clinical opinion confidentially to the patient’s smart device anywhere on Earth that has mobile data access. Within the EmERGE project patients living with stable HIV will be seen by a clinician once a year with interim results checked and data pushed through to their mobile phone. In creating the EmERGE mHealth platform the concerns and opinions of our patient focus groups and community organisations have been extremely important. Ensuring that the security of the system was above and beyond that requested and that the installed features were considered relevant has been a priority. The integration of these into the clinical systems and the approvals by the national bodies did however take slightly longer than anticipated, which set the start of recruitment to the study back slightly. Our approach was to take things slowly to ensure that everything was as good as it could be from the onset and now we have made a very impressive start. One of the aims of the study is to assess how well the EmERGE mHealth platform is accepted by those enrolled onto it. If the enthusiasm by those at the Brighton site who have viewed the system is anything to go by then we should do well, especially with Barcelona, Antwerp and Lisbon due to start enrolling in the forthcoming months. We are all really excited by the fact that the study is now properly underway in what is a truly collaborative project between all concerned. Dr Jenny Whetham and Duncan Fatz, Project Co-ordinator / Co-ordinating Centre Manager
The pilot going on in several project sites will be evaluated in a separate study to assess what users like and dislike, what changes and improvements they propose, and how the systems running in the background can be improved and streamlined even more. One of the key outcomes of EmERGE is the unified database (cohort) of patients in several countries, which allows the comparison of relevant clinical and treatment outcomes in a meaningful and easy way. Of course, all data remain anonymous throughout the entire process.
The next EmERGE Consortium Meeting is to be held in Zagreb on Thursday 15th and Friday 16th June 2017. The meeting will be a full day on Thursday and concluding early afternoon on Friday. It will discuss progress in the project so far, and also evaluate the outcomes.
Brochures and posters in the HIV clinic in Zagreb help recruit patients for the pilot study. The benefit of using technology to keep in touch with your clinic and doctors is even more obvious in settings where long distances need to be covered. Other patients particularly like the functions that allow them to track their health in charts and tables.