What does e-health have to do with multiple sclerosis? How can it improve quality of life? In short, e-health helps people with MS take more care of themselves.

Self-care for one's own health is elementary not only for MS, but also for chronic, mental, neurological and cardiovascular diseases, in order to slow down the progression of the disease or prevent it as a preventive measure. For this purpose, digital applications and technologies can be used to support the individual but also the group in more self-care. You can read more about self-care as an innovation force in the linked blog post. 

What is e-health?

E-health is short for electronic health. The German Federal Ministry of Health understands this to mean applications that use modern information and communication technologies (ICT) to support patients in their treatment and care. [1]

Self-care for one's own health is elementary not only for MS, but also for chronic, mental, neurological and cardiovascular diseases, in order to slow down the progression of the disease or prevent it as a preventive measure. For this purpose, digital applications and technologies can be used to support the individual but also the group in more self-care. You can read more about self-care as an innovation force in the linked blog post. 

This includes, for example, health apps that are used for prevention and in the treatment of diseases or also to compensate for disabilities. The communication of medical data between the parties involved, such as doctors', physiotherapists' and psychotherapists' practices as well as clinics and patients themselves, also falls under the term e-health. To implement this, the German government is working on

In order to achieve the goals of the German government, support is needed from micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to large companies that work together with scientific institutions to bring innovative digital applications to the market. Cooperation networks such as "Sealth Care" are needed to bring stakeholders to the table.

What is multiple sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory disease of the central nervous system that involves the brain and spinal cord. The course of the disease, the symptoms and the success of the therapy vary so much from patient to patient that general statements can only be made to a limited extent. For this reason MS is also known as the "disease with 1000 faces". Possible symptoms include:

  • Paralysis
  • Visual disturbances
  • Balance and coordination disorders
  • Tingling and other sensory disturbances
  • Speech and swallowing disorders
  • Chronic exhaustion (fatigue)
  • Depression
  • Memory disorders
  • Many others [3] [4]

Although the disease cannot be cured, its course can be slowed down with medication. In addition, many non-drug therapies, such as physiotherapy, psychotherapy, neuropsychological therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy, are available to treat the symptoms.

To what extent do MS patients benefit from e-health?

MS patients are accompanied by their disease throughout their lives and may also have several symptoms and concomitant diseases at the same time. In addition, therapy places are rare or MS patients have only limited access due to e.g. geographical circumstances. For this reason, it is particularly important to offer additional innovative solutions to enable safe and efficient self-management of the individual course of the disease. Here, e-health plays a crucial role in improving self-care for one's own health.

The research group around Prof. Dr. med. Tjalf Ziemssen, head of the Center for Clinical Neurosciences and the Multiple Sclerosis Center at the University Hospital Dresden, has been working on the use of e-health for MS patients for years. In a review article by Scholz et al. they gave an overview of e-health solutions for people with MS. The conclusion of the study was that e-health is a helpful tool to close gaps in health care. It improves patient care by enabling more comprehensive and accurate monitoring of disease progression. On the other hand, healthcare institutions can connect with each other to share data, provide feedback and achieve optimal self-management. At the same time, the research group suggests that future developments should focus on patient self-monitoring and move away from disease-centric to patient-centric. 

The Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (Institut für Qualität und Wirtschaftlichkeit im Gesundheitswesen,IQWiG) also investigated the benefits of mobile health applications in the self-management of multiple sclerosis. In their study, they primarily looked at apps with reminder functions to alleviate depressive symptoms and improve mental and physical performance. Their conclusion was that reminder apps help to remember daily behaviors, such as taking medication, and behavioral therapy-oriented online programs can mitigate depressive symptoms. 

Not only patients with MS benefit from e-health, but also developers learn from each other in interaction with patients. Because of the age at which the first symptoms appear and the lifelong accompaniment of the disease, MS patients can be important early adopters of new e-health trends. In addition, physical and cognitive impairments make traditional face-to-face interventions difficult. Such impairments and a willingness to use digital media to communicate with health care providers make people with MS a helpful model for innovative improvements in health care.

 

     
 

Online event

To discuss these and other e-health topics for more self-care and self-management, we cordially invite you to our online event Self Care 4.0: Sharing for Tomorrow's Health (Self Care 4.0: Austausch zur Gesundheit von morgen). The event will take place on Aug. 24, 2023, from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Current project ideas will be presented in four contributions from science and industry:
    1. Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Orlando Guntinas-Lichius, Director of the ENT Clinic at the University Hospital Jena, on current research ideas from the field of transition to rehab and outpatient rehab
    2. NN from the Center for Clinical Neuroscience at the University Hospital Dresden about ideas for digital self-care of the responsible patient
    3. Dr. med. Michael Rapp from the Chair of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Potsdam on self-care for mental health
    4. Sandra Jörg from BLACKPIN about current projects in the company, for which cooperation partners are still being sought
 
     

 

The online event is only intended to provide a foretaste of further discussions in a cooperation network sponsored by the BMWK (German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection). After all, the development of innovative technologies and applications around the topic of "self-care for one's own health" is a major challenge that can only be met by working together. The topics in the "Sealth Care" cooperation network are:

  • Prevention, early detection of diseases, aftercare and rehabilitation at home and outpatient
  • Chronic, neurological, psychological and cardiological diseases
  • App development, robotic technologies and VR/AR technologies, gamification

For more information, visit https://www.eura-ag.com/sealth-care or write saskia.thoenissen@eura-ag.de.

 


[1] https://www.bundesgesundheitsministerium.de/service/begriffe-von-a-z/e/e-health.html 

[2] https://www.bundesgesundheitsministerium.de/themen/digitalisierung/digitalisierung-im-gesundheitswesen.html 

[3] https://www.leben-mit-ms.de/multiple-sklerose/symptome-der-erkrankung

[4] https://www.trotz-ms.de/ueber-ms/symptome#unsichtbare-symptome-bei-multipler-sklerose

[5] https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3425/11/2/180

[6] https://www.iqwig.de/download/ht19-03_apps-zum-selbstmanagement-bei-multipler-sklerose_hta-kompakt_v1-0.pdf 

 

Author: Saskia Thönißen

Saskia Thönißen

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Saskia Thönißen

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I have been working as a network manager at EurA AG since 2022. I previously studied mechanical engineering and specialised in medical technology in my master's degree. During this time, I discovered my passion for the human heart and its sophisticated driving fluid, blood. Since then, I have been fascinated by looking at the body as a component and "recreating" artificial organs with all their challenges. I am also interested in research and development in the healthcare sector. Through my work at EurA AG, I constantly come into contact with new people who infect me with their enthusiasm for their field of research. I would like to think up new, innovative ideas with these people in networks and then support them in realising them.
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