Telemedicine. Virtual doctor visits. E-patients. Electronic medical records. Healthcare social media. Health apps.With digital and electronic healthcare options abounding, it’s no wonder that digital coaches have a stronghold in the rheumatoid arthritis patient space.But 5 or 10 years ago, you may not have been familiar with a digital coach.Now, online health coaches are everywhere — and some of them are dedicated specifically to helping people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) live better.

New research on the topic was recently presented at the American College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals annual meeting.

The findings showed that “a 12-week, digital health coaching program with personalized support from a dedicated health coach improved well-being and decreased symptoms for participants with rheumatoid arthritis,” according to a press release from the meeting.

The idea is that the health coaches help patients to stay compliant in their care and accountable for their health.

The coaches may also help encourage and motivate patients when it comes to lifestyle changes, offering diet and exercise advice as well as keeping track of symptoms.

While there are smartphone and computer apps to help patients with RA cope — and even keep track of symptoms, doctor appointments, and medications — the addition of a health coach may be beneficial since it provides more personalized, one-on-one attention.

Rheumatoid arthritis patients should remain under the care of a rheumatologist and primary care physician, but adding a digital health coach or RA app to a self-care tool kit can be helpful for disease management.