Session Type: Abstract Submissions (ACR)
Previous studies have demonstrated growing and significant patient use of the internet as a health resource. Yet, many web based resources have been shown to have poor quality, or lack the information being sought. An Ask the Rheumatologist service was established as an enhancement of a local rheumatology website. This study aims to examine the characteristics of the users of this service over its first year in operation and whether it can be a means to creating a dynamic website.
An Ask-the-Rheumatologist webpage was established on the www.EdmontonRheumatology.com website in January 2012., a site representing rheumatologists in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Each submitter provided a first name, city/country, and his/her question. The webpage explicitly states responses will not be provided for those questions that address specific patient care issues. A descriptive evaluation of the questions submitted between January and December 2012 was undertaken, examining the number of webpage visits, number of questions submitted, number of answers posted, gender and location of submitters when provided, general category of question, and whether or not the answer to the question could be found at least partially elsewhere on the website.
The Ask the Rheumatologist webpage was visited 1484 times in 2012. 61 questions were submitted by 48 females, 10 males, and 3 who could not be identified. 29 questions were submitted from Edmonton, 21 from other Canadian centers, and 11 from other centers around the world. 33 submitters identified having a rheumatic disease themselves, with the most common being rheumatoid arthritis (N=12), followed by fibromyalgia (N=4) and systemic lupus (N=4). 29 submitters included their personal experience. Question subject varied: Topics related to diagnosis and medication questions were most common (N=16), followed by disease treatment (N=14), investigations and natural treatment options (N=5), genetics and pregnancy (N=2). 11 questions were deemed inappropriate, most commonly because of a request to see a rheumatologist. Answers to 22 questions (36%) asked could be at least partially found elsewhere on the website. 31 questions (51%) were selected with answers posted throughout the year on the webpage.
An Ask the Rheumatologist webpage was a well used service upon its introduction. It provided answers to specific patient concerns, and in half the cases, provided information that was otherwise not available on the website, thereby allowing the site to adapt to user needs. By doing so, it provides another means to optimize care and education for those with rheumatic diseases.
S. J. Katz,
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ACR Meeting Abstracts - https://acrabstracts.org/abstract/ask-the-rheumatologist-evaluating-the-use-of-a-patient-centered-web-based-service/