Researchers Develop New App to Increase Primary-Care Doctors’ Awareness of Sickle Cell Disease

Researchers have developed a mobile application to help primary-care providers (PCPs) care for patients with sickle cell disease (SCD), which includes a toolkit containing guidelines, algorithms, and tips for communicating with local hematologists and SCD specialists about the disease.

The authors, led by Joseph Lunyera, MBChB, MSc, from the Division of Hematology and Department of Medicine at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, created the app after discovering that few PCPs are aware of the updated SCD guidelines or have regular communication with an SCD specialist.

They partnered with Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC) to identify PCPs treating at least five patients with SCD who were insured by Medicaid across the state. CCNC network administrators distributed a web-based 12-question self-reported questionnaire that assessed 53 PCPs’ attitudes toward SCD care, awareness of recent guidelines, and co-management of hydroxyurea.

The authors published their data in the Journal of Primary Care and Community Health and found that, among PCPs:

  • 73% were comfortable with the number of SCD patients in their practice
  • 67% reported having infrequent communications with an SCD specialist
  • 66% were not aware of the 2014 SCD guidelines
  • 76% reported that they would frequently use the new SCD guidelines if provided to them
  • 51% expressed comfort with using mobile applications to access SCD guidelines and provided email contact to receive further information
  • 65% reported being comfortable co-managing hydroxyurea with an SCD specialist

“In response to this gap in care, we have developed a mobile-based SCD toolbox specifically to assist PCPs to use SCD guidelines, algorithms, and a method to communicate with SCD specialists,” Dr. Lunyera and co-authors noted. “SCD is a complex chronic disease requiring care from a multidisciplinary team. … Understanding PCPs’ perspectives, availing educational resources to them, and leveraging meaningful work relations between primary-care providers and SCD specialists is critically important in formulating a comprehensive and coordinated SCD care system.”

They plan to test the app’s feasibility and acceptability among primary-care providers before making it publicly available.

Source: Lunyera J, Jonassaint C, Jonassaint J, Shah N. Attitudes of primary care physicians toward sickle cell disease care, guidelines, and comanaging hydroxyurea with a specialist. J Prim Care Community Health. 2016 August 9. [Epub ahead of print]