Four high-tech tools that can improve patient adherence in your specialty pharmacy

Written by: Darren Young on Tuesday, November 8, 2016 Posted in: Home Infusion, Specialty Pharmacy

Mobile Health Are You ConnectedData shows that only about 50% of patients adhere to their prescribed medication regimens (1) but that the vast majority of nonadherence is unintentional. (2) In specialty pharmacy, where high-cost specialty meds dominate drug spending, adherence is an ongoing challenge, but it’s one that you can overcome, and there are many tools to help.

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Here are several examples of technology that is available—or will soon be available—to help with nonadherence.

1. Apps for mobile devices and smart watches:

    There are many free applications that can be downloaded to phones, watches, and other smart devices that alert patients when to take their medications. Some even include instant calling capabilities if patients want to connect with medical professionals. At a popular HIMSS conference, many apps for the Apple Watch were demonstrated that could:

    1. alert patients to take medications
    2. access drug interaction information and other relevant drug details, such as if it should be taken with food
    3. connect to healthcare professionals in real time for video consults (3)

 2. Smart pill bottles: Another approach, which is likely to be more affordable than high-cost smart watches and phones, is the smart pill bottle. One example is a real-time wireless option from AdhereTech. (4) This bottle automatically collects and sends adherence data and can be customized so that patients can be reminded via phone calls, text messages, and “on-bottle” alerts (lights and chimes). In addition, patients can start using AdhereTech’s solution straight out of the box—no setup is required. Another smart bottle, from SMRxT, uses sensor technology in the bottom of the bottle to track both dose and time of day. If a dose is missed, information is instantly transmitted to stakeholders, “facilitating relevant interventions that change patient behavior.” (5)

3. Ingestible sensors: This option can provide real-time information for both patients and their care providers. The Proteus Discover system includes an “ingestible sensor the size of a grain of sand, a small wearable sensor patch, an application on a mobile device, and a provider portal.” (7) Once ingested, the sensor transmits a signal to the patch as well as to the patient’s mobile device and to the cloud, where it can be shared with healthcare professionals if patients elect to do so.

4. Microneedle Pills: For drugs that need to be injected, there is soon to be the Microneedle Pill, or mPill. It’s is an ingestible capsule covered with tiny needles that, when swallowed, will inject medication into the stomach lining. It then easily passes through the digestive system. (6) The mPill is ideal for those who fear needles as well as for those who struggle to inject themselves.

5. Specialty software solutions: If your software system is designed for specialty pharmacy, it should include automated tools to create refill reminders and patient follow-ups, so that regular monitoring occurs without the need for patients to initiate it.

Because most patients report that their unintentional nonadherence is due to forgetting to take their medications and running out of their supply (8), smart reminders and other devices can have a significant impact on adherence. Together, these tools for both patients and pharmacists can reduce healthcare costs and improve outcomes. See how CareTend’s mobile technology platform can streamline your specialty pharmacy operations today!

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