Medical Compliance App Proves Power Of Friends, Family
MediSafe's mobile "pillbox" app drives up medication adherence rates by sharing information with patients' loved ones.
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By letting friends and family know when a patient has not taken his or her meds, the MediSafe Project is seeing significant rises in adherence rates after its launch in November 2012. Users of the mobile app have reported an adherence rate of 81%, with Statin users' adherence at nearly 85%, according to MediSafe. According to the World Health Organization, average adherence rates remain near 50%, 31% below MediSafe's numbers.
Omri 'Bob' Shor, MediSafe Project CEO, said in an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare that the idea for the MediSafe app was inspired by his father, a diabetic patient who experienced a potentially fatal double dose of insulin after failing to remember whether or not he took the medication earlier in the day. "We understood taking medication was based on memory," Shor said. "We wanted to find a way for people to adhere to their medication … and we started to think about how we could differentiate MediSafe."
From there, Shor and his team developed MediSafe, a cloud-based solution that shares adherence information with a patient's friends or family members. The app is available for both Android and iOS users. A user can opt to download the app and act as an anonymous user or, after entering personal information, can sync to a family member's profile. After doing this, Shor said, a user will see both profiles side by side.
"For example, my dad is supposed to inject insulin," Shor said. "A reminder from MediSafe pops up [on my phone] maybe an hour after my dad was supposed to take his medication, saying a problem may have occurred, and he may have forgotten to take his pills." From there, a family member has the option to choose the "call" function, which automatically connects his/her to their family member's phone. If the family member has taken the medication on time, the app also alerts loved ones after he/she reports it to the app. "That's the social and family support that helps people adhere to medication," Shor said. "Receiving notifications via texting, calling … it's essentially closing the loop with the family."
Shor said syncing information to a Web version of the app will happen within the next three to four months. Until the Web version is available, Shor said, Android users will get access to a downloadable list of their medications, dosages and compliance rates, allowing them to share information with their doctor. Lastly, Shor and his team are also working on an automated phone system for people without a smartphone. "So if grandma is taking [medication] and doesn't have a smartphone, I can sign her up with my app," he said. The app will then generate calls to a landline number, prompting the family member to press one if he/she took her medication, two if he/she didn't, and so on. This function will also come in handy for providers without smartphones, he said, and can generate similar phone calls to report back if a patient did indeed take their medication.
Clinical, patient engagement, and consumer apps promise to re-energize healthcare. Also in the new, all-digital Mobile Power issue of InformationWeek Healthcare: Comparative effectiveness research taps the IT toolbox to compare treatments to determine which ones are most effective. (Free registration required.)
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