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How Healthcare Mobile Applications Prevent Medication Lapse

Pharmacotherapy is one of the main interventional strategies in medicine. However, patients varying in ages and medical conditions fail to take their medication as prescribed. In recent years, there has also been an increase[¹] in the number of individuals taking several medications simultaneously, which poses further complications. It is estimated that 20% to 50%[²] of patients do not take their medication correctly, leading to increased morbidity and pharmacotherapy approaches’ inefficacy. There are about 125,000[³] deaths per year in the United States due to medication nonadherence.

Why patients fail to adhere to medication prescriptions

It has been demonstrated that 40%[⁴] of patients don’t refill their medication as required, and 44 out of 100[⁵] prescriptions aren’t collected from the pharmacy.
Patients often struggle to take their medications as prescribed due to problematic medication instructions, which include:

  • Dosing frequency
  • Storage requirements
  • Administration restrictions (must take the medication with food or be taken at certain times of the day.)
  • Social or work restrictions (whether you can consume alcohol while on the medication or if you are prohibited from performing specific actions, such as operating heavy machinery.)
  • Difficult medication containers[⁶]
  • Dose calculations (cut pills)
  • Drug interactions

Patients also fail to adhere to their medication because they forget doses—many people of all ages and mental fortitude experience memory issues. Patients experience difficulties establishing a medication routine that can be easily thrown off by busy schedules or vacations. Missing doses of medications like birth control or antibiotics can be detrimental to a patient’s well-being.

How healthcare mobile applications help increase medication adherence

The number of healthcare mobile applications and patient engagement startups to facilitate treatment adherence is rising dramatically. There are currently more than 165,000 mobile healthcare apps[²] in the marketplace, and one in five[²] people have downloaded a mobile health (mHealth) app in the past. A systematic review[²] of mobile healthcare apps for increasing treatment adherence found that mobile apps help increase medication adherence and that healthcare mobile applications are appropriate for managing medication at home. Patients who used a medication reminder app reported an increase ranging between 7% and 40%[²] in medication adherence. Patients appreciate easy-to-use mobile healthcare apps and find them useful for managing their medication.

In the case of some apps, such as patient portal apps, patients can ask providers and clinic staff questions via secure HIPAA compliant messaging, improving adherence, and reducing the risks to patients that can be posed by difficult instructions and incorrect adherence.

Mobile healthcare app solutions

The increase in mobile phone use has resulted in the development of new tools and tactics for promoting medication adherence. Previously calls were made to patients to remind them of taking medication. These kinds of reminders were very effective methods and are well accepted by patients. 95%[¹] of US adults own a cellphone, making healthcare mobile applications a powerful means of improving medication adherence.

Medisafe™ and MyTherapy® are both medication reminder applications. Their features include:
  • Alerts that remind users to take their medication.
  • Refill reminders
  • Tracking of the patient’s vitals (e.g., weight, blood pressure, blood sugar levels.)

Applications such as Medisafe™ and MyTherapy® do not give healthcare providers access to this information; therefore, providers cannot track patient’s medication adherence. Furthermore, these applications do not integrate into the healthcare provider’s EHR, meaning information within the EHR will need to be added manually into the patient’s mobile healthcare app.

The Universe mHealth app platform helps facilitate treatment and medication adherence by providing features that enable patients to better understand and manage their health, as opposed to just providing medication reminders. Its features include:

  • Appointment reminders
  • Discharge education/instructions
  • Medication and condition-specific education
  • Prescription refill requests
  • Patient-Provider secure messaging

Universe mHealth can integrate with a healthcare provider’s Electronic Health Record (EHR), Revenue Cycle Management (RCM), or Practice Management (PM) solution.

mHealth apps should strive to engage patients and empower them to take charge of their health. Medication should be seen as part of a more comprehensive clinical approach, working alongside other interventions or lifestyle changes to improve overall health.

DISCLAIMER: All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Bridge Patient Portal is not affiliated, endorsed, or sponsored in any way to the service providers mentioned in this article.

  1. Tabi, K., Randhawa, A.S., Choi, F., Mithani, Z., Albers, F., Schnieder, M., Nikoo, M., Vigo, D., Jang, K., Demlova, R. and Krausz, M. (2019). Mobile Apps for Medication Management: Review and Analysis. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, [online] 7(9), p.e13608. Available at: https://mhealth.jmir.org/2019/9/e13608/.
  2. Pérez-Jover, V., Sala-González, M., Guilabert, M. and Mira, J.J. (2019). Mobile Apps for Increasing Treatment Adherence: Systematic Review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 21(6), p.e12505.
  3. Benjamin, R.M. (2012). Medication Adherence: Helping Patients Take Their Medicines As Directed. Public Health Reports, [online] 127(1), pp.2–3. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3234383/.
  4. Gazmararian, J.A., Kripalani, S., Miller, M.J., Echt, K.V., Ren, J. and Rask, K. (2006). Factors Associated with Medication Refill Adherence in Cardiovascular-related Diseases: A Focus on Health Literacy. Journal of General Internal Medicine, [online] 21(12), pp.1215–1221. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1924753/.
  5. Digital.Health. (n.d.). Medisafe – Pill & Med Reminder – Medisafe. [online] Available at: https://www.digital.health/new-products/ax3hxets2oubhur905b3jyez2pvgy4
  6. Beckman, A., Bernsten, C., Parker, M.G., Thorslund, M. and Fastbom, J. (2005). The difficulty of opening medicine containers in old age: a population-based study. Pharmacy world & science: PWS, [online] 27(5), pp.393–398. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16341746/

CEO and compliance officer of Universe, and business owner of 19 years with extensive experience in Healthcare IT. John is a Judge for the 2020 eHealthcare Leadership Awards and has appeared on multiple podcasts, including the Outcomes Rocket Podcast and the Hospital Finance Podcast.

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