New medications have made it possible for patients with HIV to live long and healthy lives, as long as they get regular medical care and take their medicines as prescribed. However, HIV-infected African Americans and Latinos are less likely than the rest of the population to receive and maintain HIV care. The Baltimore City Health Department partners with a care program, Linkage to Care, that helps identify HIV-infected people who are not in care and connect them to care by making an appointment and providing transportation for them to a clinic of their choice on the same day. However, after the first appointment, some patients need additional help to continue care. For this project, we will develop a phone app to provide this additional support to patients by providing a secure way for them to communicate with Linkage to Care officers to communicate on an ongoing basis. We designed the app with patient input to make sure it is useful. Patients informed us that it would be important that the app help them make or reschedule appointments, help them refill medications, and send confidential reminders about upcoming appointments. Because patients also expressed to the difficulty of getting in touch with staff at some clinics, the app also lets patients message their Linkage to Care officers directly and confidentially with questions and concerns. Linkage to Care officers informed us that this type of communication is important to help patients find the resources they need. In this study, we will compare the experiences and HIV clinical outcomes over time of patients who receive the Baltimore City Health Department’s usual Linkage to Care services against those who receive Linkage to Care services with the app. The results of this study will inform us about whether this approach helps patients maintain care and take their HIV medications to prolong their lives and improve their quality of life. This study will require patient input on how we can improve the app design to make it as useful and easy to use as possible. We also want input from Linkage to Care officers on whether the app is helping them connect with patients and better respond to their needs. We will also talk to public health providers, doctors and nurses, and policy makers, who can help us expand this intervention to other locations if it is successful.
*All proposed projects, including requested budgets and project periods, are approved subject to a programmatic and budget review by PCORI staff and the negotiation of a formal award contract.