Background: Oral anticoagulation therapy requires regular blood testing to ensure therapeutic levels are maintained and excessive bleeding/clotting is avoided. Technology-assisted self-testing and management is seen as one of the key areas in which quality of care can be improved whilst reducing costs. Nevertheless, levels of patient engagement in self-testing and management remain low. To date, little research emphasis has been placed on understanding the patients' perspectives for low engagement. The typical approach adopted by healthcare providers is to provide patient education programmes, with the expectation that individual patients will change their behaviour and adopt new self-care strategies. However, if levels of patient engagement are to be increased, healthcare providers must also develop a better understanding of how their clinical service provision is perceived by patients and make adaptations.
Objective: To explore patient views, needs and expectations of an anticoagulation service and the self-testing and management services provided.
Methods: Interviews were conducted with 17 patients who currently engage in international normalised ratio (INR) self-testing and management. Thematic coding and analysis were carried out on the interview transcripts.
Results: Four high-level themes emerged from interviews: (i) role of clinic, (ii) motivations for self-testing, (iii) managing INR and (iv) trust. The clinic was seen as adding value in terms of specifying testing frequency, dosage profiles and calibrating equipment. Prompt communication from clinic to patient was also valued, although more personalised/real-time communication would help avoid feelings of isolation. Patients felt more in control as self-tester/managers and often took decisions about treatment adjustments themselves. However, some also manipulated their own test results to avoid 'unnecessary' interventions.
Conclusions and recommendations: More personalised/real-time communication, pragmatic and collaborative patient-clinician partnerships and recognition of expert patient knowledge and expertise are needed if increased levels of engagement with self-testing and management service provision is to be realised.
- Chronic conditions
- Oral anticoagulation therapy
- Patient perceptions
- Service quality
- Technology-assisted health care