~ Authored by Regina Liang & Karolina Chachulska
Three in four adults in the U.S. do not adhere to their drug regimen as prescribed. This could mean not refilling a prescription or taking a smaller or higher dosage than necessary. Medication nonadherence impacts patient treatment and quality of care, and costs the healthcare system $300 billion annually according to PhRMA, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.
Forgetfulness is the leading cause of medication nonadherence, and digital health technologies could provide a cost-effective and unobtrusive solution. As we see larger adoption of smartphones and as wearables become more affordable, employing these technologies can help improve adherence in three ways: (1) tracking dosage and intake, (2) responding with rewards or warnings, and (3) alerting nearby caregivers.
- Medical sensors present a more reliable method to track timing, amount, and frequency of drug intake. Consider the use of a lightweight and smart device that clips onto a pill bottle, which automatically collects data when a patient extracts and ingests a pill. These technologies exist today through advanced motion sensing and weight detection. A very good example is Amiko.io. Rather than taking mental notes or manually jotting down events in a wordpad, the sensor does the work for you in a mobile app (or a connected hub for those who do not own a smartphone) for easy entry into your personal drug history. For every missed dose, a reminder is sent to the patient.
- A dual reward and warning system could empower patients to take greater ownership of their drug management. Based on user compliance, the mobile application can enhance patient engagement by rewarding them when they follow instructions or flagging them when they break the rules. Mango Health, a mobile application company, currently offers financial incentives for patients who adhere to their drug regimen. In accordance with one's medication schedule, which can be quickly uploaded, a patient receives timely alerts and an accompanying cash reward for completing the task over a given period.
- Finally, mobile applications could promote patient accountability by forwarding all drug activities to a designated caregiver. This can be the patient’s primary doctor, who customizes or updates treatment based on this information. This can also be an immediate family member, who helps to remind the patient of every pill he or she has forgotten. While data accuracy and interoperability present challenges to fully realizing this potential, it is worthwhile to explore the benefits of social engagement in medication adherence.
Proper drug management helps to reduce forgetfulness, contributing to overall drug effectiveness. At infoedge, we are currently exploring these applications to provide an all-in-one solution to medication adherence. Stay tuned for more information.
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Regina Liang, Consultant, At infoedge, Regina initiates change in the healthcare industry with innovative solutions to optimize patient engagement and influence the continuum care spectrum from a preventative viewpoint. Prior to joining infoedge, Regina helped hospital systems improve their revenue cycle and billing processes, resulting in decreased revenue loss and profit-generating contract negotiations. Regina holds a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from University of California.
Karolina Chachulska, Manager - information Solution Excellence, With over 10 years of professional experience working in financial auditing and at high-profile management consulting firms, Karolina is the best at what she does. She is passionate about helping her clients’ drive business performance through patient engagement strategies and through improvements in the consumer revenue stream. Karolina holds a MBA from Hult International Business School and a Master’s of Science in Economics, Finance and Banking.