Background: Mobile Health (mHealth) defines the support and practice of health care using mobile devices and promises to improve the current treatment situation of patients with chronic diseases. Little is known about mHealth usage and digital preferences of patients with chronic rheumatic diseases (RMD).

Objective: To explore mHealth usage, eHealth literacy, communication and information preferences of patients with RMD.

Methods: Between December 2018 and January 2019, 193 consecutive patients with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and axial spondyloarthritis were asked to complete a paper-based survey. The survey included questions on sociodemographics, health characteristics, mHealth usage, eHealth literacy using eHealth Literacy Scale (eHEALS) and communication and information preferences.

Results: 176 patients (91.2%) regularly used a smartphone, 89 patients (46.1%) regularly used social media. 132 (68.4%) patients believed that using medical apps could be beneficial for their own health. Only 8 patients (4.1%) were currently using medical apps and only 22 patients (11.4%) stated that they knew useful rheumatology websites / mobile apps. 188 patients (97.4%) would agree to share their mobile app data for research purposes. 129 patients (66.8%) would regularly enter data using an app. 146 patients (75.6%) would welcome official mobile app recommendations from the national rheumatology society. The preferred average time for data entry was not more than 15
minutes and the preferred frequency was weekly. The most popular app feature was additional medication information. Internet was the most frequently utilized source of information. The mean eHealth litearacy eHEALS sum score was 26.3 and correlated well with younger age, app use, belief in benefit of using medical apps and current internet use to obtain health information.

Conclusions: Patients with RMD are very eager to use mHealth technologies to better understand their chronic diseases. An overwhelming majority was willing to share app data for research purposes. However, this open-mindedness is counterbalanced by low mHealth usage and competence.

Johannes Knitza MD, David Simon MD, Antonia Lambrecht MD, Christina Raab MD, Koray Tascilar MD, Melanie HagenMD, Arnd Kleyer MD, Sara Bayat MD, Adrian Derungs, Oliver Amft MSc, Georg Schett MD, Axel J Hueber MD