The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that more than half of all people living with hepatitis C in the U.S. are unaware of their infection and only 9% have been successfully treated and cured, despite the availability of well-tolerated curative treatments for the past several years. A major priority of the Action Plan for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis is improving testing, care, and treatment to prevent liver disease and cancer. Given the large number of patients with chronic hepatitis C (HCV) who have not yet been cured, there is an urgent need for more health care providers to treat patients infected with HCV. The HepCure initiative aims to expand the number of health care providers treating HCV infection, improve provider knowledge of HCV disease management, enhance patient engagement in the HCV treatment process, and improve the quality and outcome of HCV treatment.
What is HepCure?
HepCure is a free, innovative provider and patient education toolkit, which uses web-based and smartphone-enabled resources, navigation, consultation, and support to enhance the quality of care for persons living with HCV. The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City developed the HepCure toolkit for HCV in collaboration with the New York State Department of Health’s AIDS Institute and the Community Health Care Association of NYS (CHCANYS) along with their member community health centers.
HepCure draws upon the expertise and infrastructure of Mount Sinai’s Division of Liver Diseases, Hepatitis C Clinical & Research Program in the Division of General Internal Medicine, and the Sinai AppLab, an innovative health information technology, research, and quality improvement project in the Division of Gastroenterology.
HepCure is offered free of charge and includes three integrated components:
The three components of HepCure are interactive, facilitating primary care provider education, hepatitis C treatment capacity-building, and patient-provider communication.
The HepCure dashboard is a virtual toolkit that enables providers to (1) organize and track their patients with HCV infection; (2) use treatment decision support algorithms to determine treatment options based on HCV Treatment recommendations from the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA); (3) track HCV quality of care indicators; (4) share information with patients using the HepCure patient app; (5) submit de-identified patient cases for review and discussion during weekly tele-education webinars; and (6) access provider and patient educational resources.
The HepCure patient app is a bi-directional patient-provider app that can be integrated into the provider dashboard described above or used independently. It is available for download on patients’ smartphones through Google Play and in the Apple App Store. The patient app supports patients to (1) find out what treatment options are available to them based on AASLD/IDSA recommendations; (2) assess their own readiness to start treatment and access resources to improve readiness; (3) set medication reminders and track adherence and appointments; (4) record symptoms while on treatment; (5) communicate with their health care provider regarding treatment adherence, symptoms and personal lab data; and (6) access patient resources such as fact sheets.
The HepCure weekly webinar series takes place every Tuesday from 4:30-5:30 pm EST. All webinars are archived for later viewing. Each week, the webinar features an HCV expert presenter and a discussion of cases submitted by health care providers through the HepCure Provider Dashboard. We held 50 webinars in the last year which were attended by over 700 live participants. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the weekly email webinar announcement list.
The HepCure Provider Dashboard is currently being used at five institutions (including 3 federally qualified health centers) in New York State and a national consortium of clinical sites is being formed. The Hepcure patient app has been downloaded over 300 times since its release in November 2015. Lucinda K. Porter, RN, Hepatitis C Advocate, has described HepCure in her blog as “one of the best health-related apps I’ve ever seen” and recommends “to tell your fellows with hep C and every doctor you know about HepCure.”
Jeffrey J Weiss, PhD, MS and Ponni Perumalswami, MD are at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. This article was originally published on AIDS.gov, February 12, 2016.