Medication adherence has been a topic of interest for health care providers, caregivers and third-party providers alike. While practitioners work hard to select optimal drug therapy for their patients, clinical improvements may not always result as expected. This inefficacy in treatment often stems from the inability of patients to adhere to the treatment regimens set forth by providers. While many patients struggle to adhere to their regimens for a number of reasons, technology-centered initiatives like the MediSafe© Project are taking advantage of the utility of smart phone applications to steer consumers towards better adherence. MediSafe® allows patients to scan drug barcodes, add directions and set alerts so that they are reminded to take them in a timely manner. If patients still fail to take their medication on time, the app can be synced to a loved one or caregiver so that they are alerted that the patient did not follow the regimen as indicated. iPharmacy© is another app available at no cost that offers additional features along with medication reminders. Some of these tools include a pill identifier, access to information pertaining to drug recalls and a pharmacy locator.
So what if the patient is not particularly keen on the idea of using a smart phone? After all, widespread popularity with smart phones lies predominantly with younger generations. While MediSafe© in particular is working towards improving accessibility by implementing low-tech solutions, there are additional options already in place. EMMA®, (Electronic Medication Management System) is an in-house, FDA-approved comprehensive management system for patients with complex medication regimens. EMMA® houses blister cards of medications that are inserted into the machine like compact discs and can be remotely controlled by pharmacists. The system collects more accurate adherence information, which pharmacists and physicians can access. Though this technology provides considerable accuracy in adherence measurement, it is not a guarantee that all patients will be eligible for coverage and thus may not be able to afford the machine.
While all these approaches differ in one way or another, there is a common theme—improvement in adherence by means of a more involved and integrative strategy that aims to bridge the gap between practitioner initiatives and patient implementation. While finances and the adaptation of the senior population to advances in technology remain as limitations, there is a great deal of progress, such as NCPIE’s National Action Plan that paves the way for better adherence and ultimately, better health outcomes.
Pharm.D Candidate 2014