Could bio sensors and gaming be part of the future of medicines adherence? asks Stephenie Shea

For the past few years, it seems every major pharmacy group has offered a prescription reminder service for their customers. We know it’s important – it’s about communicating with your customers, offering the convenience and ease of managing their scripts, which ultimately leads to loyalty to the pharmacy and compliance to their medication.

But has the message been diluted and have we reached our maximum potential with this service offer?

Let’s look at the numbers:

  • Global statistics show approximately 50% of patients do not take their medication doses exactly as prescribed by their healthcare professional.
  • Australian figures are consistent with these findings, estimating on at least one occasion 41% of Australians have stopped taking prescribed medicine before they were meant to.
  • A meta-analysis of several randomised controlled trials show a statistical significant increase in adherence in groups receiving a reminder intervention compared to controls (66.61% versus 54.71%).

Many studies have been conducted to look at improved medication compliance using mobile devices. These studies highlight that there is still a need to improve patient compliance to chronic medication to reduce hospitalisation rates and even mortality rates.

With advancements to digital technology moving faster than ever, one potential development is the inclusion of personal health monitoring systems using bio sensors which collect vital signs data.

They are designed to collect and analyse medication compliance, side effects and symptom responses, which is then transferred in real time to a web-based system for remote monitoring by caregivers and health professionals.

Health professionals can then use the system to assess the effect of the medication regimen on their patients’ health and adapt it to reduce side-effects and maximise the patient’s wellbeing.

Poor medication adherence is common in children and adolescents with chronic illness, and the use of gamification can help overcome some of the barriers to regular medication taking.

For example, Asthma Australia has already tapped into this technique with its launch of a mobile app on World Asthma Day on May 2, 2017. This app focuses on asthma management and asthma goals, where users receive notifications from a cast of ‘monster characters’ who provide friendly reminders and opportunities to adjust goals to keep users on track.

Patient adherence programs have gained increased recognition for its essential role in improving medication compliance, and the current trends continue to show that compliance still needs to be improved in the Australian community.

Pharmacists are at the forefront to help their customers achieve their best health outcomes with the use of medication reminder services and technology has made headway in how they are delivered.

References:

  1. https://www.guild.org.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0021/5655/medication-adherence-programs.pdf
  2. health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/5B1B138DA00BB9C7CA2578150083984E/$File/DAA%20PMP%20Report.pdf p26
  3. http://mccrindle.com.au/the-mccrindle-blog/the-healthy-futures-report
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3287416/

 

Stephenie Shea is a Discount Drug Stores Pharmacist and National Professional Services and Pharmaceuticals Manager.