Text Messages Remind Grandpa To Take His Meds - InformationWeek
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Text Messages Remind Grandpa To Take His Meds

Mobile health technology aims to keep older adults healthy and living independently.

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A Los Angeles-based retirement home company has been awarded a $77,150 grant from the non-profit Center for Technology and Aging for a project that will enable older adults to use cellphone text messaging services to help them remember to take their medication.

"We are excited that the Center for Technology and Aging, which awarded us the grant, provided us with a rare opportunity to apply a mobile technology solution to address the significant problem of medication adherence among seniors," Kari Olson, president of the Front Porch Center for Technology Innovation and Wellbeing, told InformationWeek Healthcare.

Under the new initiative, Front Porch Center will partner with CareSpeak Communications, which provides a two-way short message service (SMS)-based medication reminder service. Seniors will be able to use CareSpeak's medication reminder service with their mobile phones via a texting plan as part of the "Minding Our Meds" project.

The new initiative will engage 150 adults age 50 and older living in Front Porch Center communities to input information regarding their medication regimen into a dashboard. The data will include dosage amounts, what time the medication needs to be taken, and whether pills should be taken before or after a meal.

[Legally, electronic health records are double-edged swords: They protect clinicians from malpractice litigation but also put them at greater risk. See Will Your EHR Land You In Court?]

Additionally, the user will enter the name of a caregiver who can be alerted via text message if the user doesn't respond to the text reminder. The caregiver (who could also be a relative or a friend) can call the user to monitor and follow up with them. CareSpeak can also send medication refill reminder alerts to ensure uninterrupted therapy and allow users to view their adherence calendar online.

"The solution is designed to be simple. A medication reminder text message will prompt you to reply to CareSpeak with a one-digit number to confirm that you took your medicine," Davis Park, director of the Front Porch Center said in an interview. "A non-reply will trigger a text message to the caregiver after a certain designated amount of time. The CareSpeak dashboard is accessed via the Internet to first set up the medication schedule and, if desired, to later review medication adherence results."

CareSpeak's service allows users to:
-- Receive timely reminders to ensure medication is taken as prescribed;
-- Log medication intakes by response text and view adherence calendar online;
-- Get timely refill reminder alerts to ensure uninterrupted therapy; and
-- Involve caregiver(s) by having them receive escalation alerts so they can call a user in case user/patient misses an alert.

"With the aging population trend in the USA, it is important to create simple, affordable, yet effective tools to help seniors and their circle of care manage the seniors' health and wellness better," Srdjan (Serge) Loncar, CareSpeak's president and CEO, said in a statement.

"Medication therapy compliance, monitoring of biometrics, and patient education play a significant part in improving health and quality of life for seniors, and CareSpeak's mobile health platform helps seniors achieve that. CareSpeak's platform, using a ubiquitous, inexpensive technology, helps keep people out of the hospital and living independently."

The award will primarily be used to support the outreach, education, training, and implementation of the project, which will be rolled out in two phases: the first group will begin using the system before Thanksgiving, and the second group will start in January or February 2012.

"We hope to demonstrate that this low-cost, affordable solution on a ubiquitous technology platform, SMS-based texting on cell phones, will help promote independence, wellness, and a high level of comfort with technology. We want to learn how a simple consumer product can indeed help increase medication adherence in a population that badly needs it," Park said.

Mobile health, or mHealth, has captured the attention of the Department of Health and Human Services as a way to use new technologies to advance healthcare. In September, HHS' Text4Health taskforce issued recommendations for health text messaging on mobile phones.

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User Rank: Apprentice
10/19/2011 | 7:51:57 PM
re: Text Messages Remind Grandpa To Take His Meds
I think that medication reminders by electronic messaging are valuable, however agree that it will take time for this technology in the current aging population to gain traction! Unfortunately, like some many products/services out on the market to improve medication management, electronic messaging reminders only scratches the surface of the problem!! I am a pharmacist and have worked with patients for many years to improve their medication adherence at home. Basically there are 3 major problems that patients face with their medications, and product technology needs to address each of these problems. Firstly, medications at home can be a real MESS in the way the patient stores them around the house. Also, if they take a multitude of pills, you have to take into account how many times a day patients twist and untwist the child-proof prescription lids....it can by very frustrating. For this problem, patients need to get organized and keep the daily medicine routine simple, and the best system available is the basic plastic pillbox. Secondly, once the patient is organized with a pillbox system, if they are not reminded to take their medications then pillbox is worthless. Therefore, patients need a tool that organizes medications and helps them to remember to take them on time. Thirdly, the two-way communication between patients and their healthcare providers in today's medical system is not optimal and a great majority of the time the medication records that physicans have are so inaccurate when compared to what the patient is taking at home! Therefore, patients need an additional tool to aid in the communication of these medication discussions. Our company has taken all of these aspects and provided a solution to each of these problems in one device, the MedFolio Pillbox (www.medfoliopillbox.com). So it is great that this organization is providing its clients with text messaging medication reminders, however it is really only a small part of the total solution!
User Rank: Apprentice
10/19/2011 | 4:19:42 PM
re: Text Messages Remind Grandpa To Take His Meds
Interestingly enough, I see Seniors using cell phones all the time here in Florida. And that's an encouraging sight. But I totally agree that it takes time to reach this demographic.

However, it's always surprising to see news about a "new reminder service". This is not a new concept, and everyone seems to be reinventing this same wheel. (Didn't these folks do a web search to find out what services already exist?)

My company www.OnTimeRx.com has been providing phone, SMS (text) and email reminders for 5 years and reminder software applications for smart phones and PDAs for over a decade.

We've found that the family caregivers are the ones who usually sign up for our phone/SMS service on behalf of their aging parent. Humana's new caregiver-focused benefits package utilizes OnTimeRx reminders as one of the Care Tools in the package. www.Pointsofcaregiving.com Makes sense, because automating this task actually relieves a lot of stress for all parties concerned. To paraphrase a classic commercial: The cost of reminders ~ $1/day or less. Peace of mind - "Priceless!"
Tom LaSusa
Tom LaSusa,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/18/2011 | 7:05:40 PM
re: Text Messages Remind Grandpa To Take His Meds
It's still taking Baby Boomers time to embrace smartphones, tablet computers and other tech -- so I don't know how effective this service will actually be. Still, it's a good one to have -- and I wager will be used far more by the Generation X'ers once they reach that age (which frighteningly enough isn't all that terribly far away -- I should know).

Maybe there's some baby boomers reading this right now on their iPad?

Tom LaSusa
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