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6/24/2010
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Telehealth Device Improves Patient Compliance

Use of a wireless reminder instrument led to a 27% higher rate of patients taking their medications on time.

The Center for Connected Health, a division of Partners Healthcare, announced on Wednesday that patients using a wireless electronic bottle cap to remind them to take their blood pressure medication led to a 27% higher rate of patients who took their medication on time compared to patients who didn't have such a device.

The study assessed the impact of the GlowCap developed by Vitality, a Boston-based telehealth company. The GlowCap is a standard-size pill-bottle cap that alerts patients using light and sound, is Wi-Fi enabled, and links to the Internet.

Inside the GlowCap is a wireless chip that enables four services, the company says. First, the device gives personal reminders by flashing light or playing a ringtone so the patient doesn't forget. Second, the device has a social network support service that sends a weekly e-mail update to a friend or family member that the patient selects. Third, GlowCap can order refills from the pharmacy, and fourth, each month the device sends the patient and the doctor a printed report with incentives if they exceed compliance goals. Collectively, these services help people stick with their prescription regimen.

"We are extremely encouraged by these interim results, showing a high rate of adherence in users of the GlowCap system," Alice Watson, corporate manager for research and program evaluation at the Center for Connected Health, said in a statement. "As healthcare providers, we must find strategies that help patients become more adherent to their medications and care plans."

The study included 139 patients with hypertension who were taking an antihypertensive medication. Each participant was randomly placed into one of three groups. Those in the control group did not receive any communication or GlowCap services. An intervention group received visual and audio reminders from the GlowCap, as well as missed dose reminder phone calls, medication refill reminders, and progress reports e-mailed to the patient, family member, and primary care provider. An intervention-plus group received the intervention, as well as a financial incentive if they exceeded a monthly adherence goal of 80%.

Over a three-month period, analysis shows study participants in the intervention and intervention-plus group achieved adherence rates of 98% and 99%, respectively. This was significantly higher than the control group, which had an adherence rate of 71%. The study is also measuring blood pressure control and subject satisfaction. Final analysis of the study is anticipated this fall.

"GlowCaps use real-time feedback loops to act on a number of behavioral motivators: reminders, doctor accountability, social support, and help with refills," David Rose, Vitality's CEO said in a statement. "These are instructive findings for pharmaceutical manufacturers and payers who have a vested interest in improving patient outcomes with their products and services."

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