Development, usability and acceptability of an integrated eHealth system for spondyloarthritis in the Netherlands (SpA-Net)

Casper Webers, Esther Beckers, Annelies Boonen, Yvonne van Eijk-Hustings, Harald Vonkeman, Mart van de Laar, Astrid van Tubergen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective To develop and test the usability and acceptability of a disease-specific integrated electronic health (eHealth) system for spondyloarthritis (SpA) in the Netherlands ('SpA-Net').

Methods SpA-Net was developed in four phases. First, content and design were discussed with experts on SpA and patients. Second, the database, electronic medical record (EMR) and quality management system were developed. Third, multiple rounds of testing were performed. Fourth, the eHealth system was implemented in practice and feasibility was tested among patients through semistructured focus interviews (n=16 patients) and among care providers through feedback meetings (n=11 rheumatologists/fellows and 5 nurses).

Results After completion of the first three steps of development in 2015, SpA-Net was implemented in 2016. All patients included have a clinical diagnosis of SpA. Information on domains relevant to clinical record-keeping is prospectively collected at routine outpatient consultations and readily available to care providers, presented in a clear dashboard. Patients complete online questionnaires prior to outpatient visits. In February 2019, 1069 patients were enrolled (mean [SD] age 54.9 [14.1] years, 52.4% men). Patients interviewed (n=16) considered SpA-Net an accessible system that was beneficial to disease insight and patient-physician communication, and had additional value to current care. Care providers appreciated the additional information for (preparing) consultations. Barriers were the initial time required to adopt the EMR and the quantity of data entry.

Conclusion SpA-Net enables monitoring of patients with SpA and real-life data collection, and could help improve knowledge and optimise communication between patients and care providers. Both considered SpA-Net a valuable addition to current care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number000860
Number of pages10
JournalRMD Open
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


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