Background: We designed a telemonitoring strategy for teenagers with inflammatory bowel disease to prevent an anticipated disease flare and avert unplanned office visits and day care procedures. The strategy was evaluated in a randomized controlled trial that involved 11 Dutch pediatric gastroenterology centers, each using repeated symptom scores and stool calprotectin measurements. In the telemonitoring arm of the trial, teenagers (n=84) as well as their health providers were alerted to out-of-range results, and suggestions for change in therapy were offered. We demonstrated that the technology was a safe and cost saving alternative to health checks by the specialist at fixed intervals.
Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate whether we could move our telemonitoring strategy from a demonstration project to one that is sustained within existing sites.
Methods: In this empirical case study, we used the nonadoption, abandonment, scale-up, spread, and sustainability (NASSS) framework to explore the challenges to implementing our strategy. The framework distinguishes 7 domains . (1) the illness, (2) the technology, (3) the value proposition, (4) the adopter system, (5) the organization, (6) the societal system, and (7) the time dimension. We summarized the challenges across all 7 domains and classified them as simple (+++), complicated (++), or complex (+). Technologies in which multiple domains are complicated have proven difficult to implement, whereas those with multiple complex domains may not even become mainstreamed.
Results: The technology that we used and the linked program (IBD-live) allowed us to select and target the teenagers who were most likely to benefit from a face-to-face encounter with their specialist (+++). The value proposition of the technology was clear, with a distinct benefit for patients and an affordable service model, but health providers had plausible personal reasons to resist (double data entry, ++). The organization was not yet ready for the innovation, as it requires a shift to new ways of working (+). We had no concerns about reimbursement, as Dutch health insurers agreed that screen-to-screen consultations will be reimbursed at a rate equivalent to face-to-face consultations (+++). Finally, the technology was considered easy to adapt and evolve over time to meet the needs of its users (+++).
Conclusions: The challenges to be addressed are merely complicated (++) rather than complex (+), which means that our program may be difficult but not impossible to sustain within existing sites. After integrating the technology and its use with local workflows first, we believe that our telemonitoring strategy will be ready for sustained adoption. In contrast with what we did ourselves, we recommend others to use the NASSS framework prospectively and in real time to predict and explore the challenges to implementing new technologies.