Bringing together patients' perspectives on eHealth and mHealth

Patient Groups Address The Impact of Liver Disease

World Hepatitis Day

28th July is World Hepatitis Day. In the lead-up to this, UK charity, the British Liver Trust, published its key report “The Alarming Rise of Liver Disease in the UK”. On the other side of the world we also look at how the patient group Hepatitis Victoria is using digital technology to help people assess their risk of hepatitis.

Recognising the scale

The recent report from the British Liver Trust makes stark reading, noting that:

  • “Liver disease is the third leading cause of premature death in England and is the biggest cause of death for people aged between 35 and 49. 
  • Liver disease is expected to overtake cardiovascular disease as the biggest cause of premature death in the next few years.” – British Liver Trust

The Trust argues for screening and early intervention, pointing out that when liver disease is only detected as an emergency, the disease progression means that the patient is likely to die within a year. They describe it as a “silent killer” because early symptoms are hard to spot. However, if the risk factors are confirmed early, the disease can be reversed through lifestyle changes. Obesity, alcohol and viral hepatitis are leading risks factors for liver disease.

Pamela Healy, Chief Executive of the British Liver Trust, argues for more emphasis on early intervention: 

“To address this issue, we need the government to support us in improving early diagnosis and tackling prevention…Helping people understand how to reduce their risk of liver damage is vital to change outcomes. Although the liver is remarkably resilient, if left too late damage is often irreversible and leads to liver failure.” – Pamela Healy, CEO, British Liver Trust.

Australian patient group develops risk tools

Hepatitis Victoria is a not-for-profit organisation for people affected by or at risk of hepatitis. They have a strong commitment to digital support. This was recognised by the Economist Intelligence Unit which declared Melanie Eagle, the charity’s CEO, one of the world’s six top technology `Change Makers’ for HCV (Hepatitis C Virus).

Currently the group’s website liverwell.org.au, gives access to a range of digital tools including:

  • CAREcheck, an online questionnaire to help people assess their current liver health, and follow targeted recommendations on diet, exercise and lifestyle
  • HEPcheck, an online tool to help people assess risk factors associated with hepatitis B and C
  • Living Well, including podcasts, and downloadable guides with guidance on diet, activity, mental health and alcohol.

Last year, they launched their LiverWELL app, which includes a lifestyle tracker, recommendations for improving liver health through lifestyle steps, guidance on diagnosis, treatment and management of hepatitis B and C, and support for self-management. The app is available in English, Arabic, Simplified Chinese and Vietnamese, and the group is working to expand the functions and content of future versions.

NEXT STEPS:

Download the British Liver Trust report at…

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Find out more about Hepatitis Victoria’s LiverWell app at…

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Review the range of digital tools from Hepatitis Victoria at…

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Find out more information about World Hepatitis Day from the global patient group the World Hepatitis Alliance at…

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