Epilepsy self management boosted by tablet-based tool

Pandey says he wants to empower epilepsy patients to improve their disease management.
Pandey says he wants to empower epilepsy patients to improve their disease management.

One-third of people with epilepsy, or about one million Americans, have trouble controlling their seizures, even with medication. Frequent and severe seizures can severely undermine their ability to work, sustain relationships and live independently.

But a new research project at the University of Illinois-Chicago seeks to change that by providing a tablet-based tool customized for each patient. The goal is to help them stay healthy and reduce their need for emergency services, says Dilip Pandey, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago and a lead investigator on the “PAUSE” [Personalized Internet Assisted Underserved Self-management for Epilepsy] project.

“The PAUSE program is based on the coordinated care model and allows providers to identify information a patient can use to build self-management skills,” he says. 

Providers work with each patient to determine what they need help with related to their condition — be it avoiding seizure triggers, issues around driving, or, in the case of skilled nursing or assisted living residents, medication management or activities of daily living. The researchers then provide each patient with a personalized self-management education program, loaded onto a tablet that they take home with them for 10 to 12 weeks.

“We program the PAUSE tablet to include the corresponding educational modules, containing information provided by the Epilepsy Foundation website,” Pandey says. Participants review the information at their own pace, and take part in weekly videoconferencing calls via tablet with Pandey and his staff to receive individualized assistance.

The researchers hypothesize that PAUSE will improve compliance with medication regimens and epilepsy self-management, and ultimately reduce seizure frequency and emergency room visits among people with the condition.