For a study, researchers sought to examine how well a health app performs in terms of usability, adherence, and data equivalency in the daily management of patients with axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA).

Over the course of 6 months, consecutive axSpA patients were asked to electronically export patient-reported outcomes (PRO) using the AxSpA Live App on a regular basis every 2 weeks. Two more in-person visits were made following the initial clinical appointment, at 3 and 6 months. Patients completed the paper-based PRO at each appointment and the mobile app rating scale and system usability scale at the 3- and 6-month marks.

Of the 103 patients with axSpA, 69 (67.0%) volunteered to participate. They were aged 41.5 (11.3) years, 58.0% were male , had a Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index (BASDAI) of 4.3 (2.0), and were receiving biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic medication in 76.8% of cases. After 3 and 6 months, patients’ adherence to typical app exports was 29.0% and 28.4%, respectively. High disease activity and older age were significant predictors of excellent adherence (P=0.02, P=0.04, respectively). There were no discernible systematic differences between digital and paper-based BASDAI scores (intraclass correlation coefficients 0.99 [95% CI 0.98-0.99]). The app’s performance was rated as good.

Patients with active axSpA may benefit from the collection of digital PROs by the AxSpA Live App. The study demonstrated the equivalent value of digital data, although app adherence was weak after 6 months. Age and increasing illness activity led to increased app adherence. It implied that patients who are more badly impacted should be the primary focus of health applications like this.