Multiple chronic conditions (MCCs) are common among older adults and expensive to manage. Two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries have multiple conditions (eg, diabetes and osteoarthritis) and account for more than 90% of Medicare spending. Patients with MCCs also experience lower quality of life and worse medical and psychiatric outcomes than patients without MCCs. In primary care settings, where MCCs are generally treated, care often focuses on laboratory results and medication management, and not quality of life, due in part to time constraints. eHealth systems, which have been shown to improve multiple outcomes, may be able to fill the gap, supplementing primary care and improving these patients’ lives.
This study aims to assess the effects of ElderTree (ET), an eHealth intervention for older adults with MCCs, on quality of life and related measures.
In this unblinded study, 346 adults aged 65 years and older with at least 3 of 5 targeted high-risk chronic conditions (hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and BMI ≥30 kg/m2) were recruited from primary care clinics and randomized in a ratio of 1:1 to one of 2 conditions: usual care (UC) plus laptop computer, internet service, and ET or a control consisting of UC plus laptop and internet but no ET. Patients with ET have access for 12 months and will be followed up for an additional 6 months, for a total of 18 months. The primary outcomes of this study are the differences between the 2 groups with regard to measures of quality of life, psychological well-being, and loneliness. The secondary outcomes are between-group differences in laboratory scores, falls, symptom distress, medication adherence, and crisis and long-term health care use. We will also examine the mediators and moderators of the effects of ET. At baseline and months 6, 12, and 18, patients complete written surveys comprising validated scales selected for good psychometric properties with similar populations; laboratory data are collected from eHealth records; health care use and chronic conditions are collected from health records and patient surveys; and ET use data are collected continuously in system logs. We will use general linear models and linear mixed models to evaluate primary and secondary outcomes over time, with treatment condition as a between-subjects factor. Separate analyses will be conducted for outcomes that are noncontinuous or not correlated with other outcomes.
Recruitment was conducted from January 2018 to December 2019, and 346 participants were recruited. The intervention period will end in June 2021.
With self-management and motivational strategies, health tracking, educational tools, and peer community and support, ET may help improve outcomes for patients coping with ongoing, complex MCCs. In addition, it may relieve some stress on the primary care system, with potential cost implications. NCT03387735;