Heart failure website

Putting evidence into practice

Initial discussions with healthcare professionals highlighted a need for a central information point; focus groups with patients met this need.

Using the internet to find health information is increasing at a rapid rate, with research claiming that as many as 80% of internet users visit health websites and over 50% of these users believed that their behaviour is influenced by such health information. In one study it was found that 87% of respondents used the internet for information about a health topic, compared to 71% who obtain information from a health professional.

Heart failure is primarily (although not entirely) a disease of the elderly and it was initially thought that this may cause a problem with website use. However, in 2009 the Office for National Statistics  identified that the number of over 65′s who access the internet has increased by 15% to around 35%. The heart failure website has taken the age of patients into account in its design, utilising advice from NIH Senior Health about the use of larger text fonts, contrast adjustments and multimedia options. After consultation with heart failure professionals, patients and carers, it became evident that many patients accessed the internet with the help of a carer or family member.

A number of heart failure related websites already exist. However, as part of our patient and carer involvement, there appeared to be an issue regarding trust; patients and carers did not always know what information and advice was credible. There was also an issue around access, as patients and carers were not sure where or how to find the appropriate information. In order to understand what was important in terms of website design, content, structure and usability, we worked closely with people who have heart failure. These meetings with people who would actually be using the site were invaluable.

The clinical aspect of the website was developed through discussions with local heart failure specialist clinicians. The website also pulls together existing information and resources about heart failure patient self-management from the following evidence-based organisations:

Patients can find information about diagnosis, medication, diet and exercise which is applicable to all heart failure patients and healthcare professionals. The website also contains information which is specifically related to patients and healthcare professionals based within Greater Manchester.

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