Consumer adherence to treatment plans – particularly adherence to recommended medications – is a big issue in population health management. Poor medication adherence leads to increased emergency department utilization, more hospitalizations, and generally poorer health outcomes (see Medication Non-Adherence Doubles Risk of Rehospitalization for Schizophrenia Patients; Lack Of Prescription Medication Adherence & Related Factors Associated With $290 Billion In Annual Avoidable Medical Spending and Study Finds Medication Adherence Leads to Lower Health Care Costs).
Over the past five years, we’ve seen many initiatives to harness technology to improve consumer engagement and consumer adherence with medication management. The sponsors of these new tech products and services are many. Tech companies, certainly. But also pharmaceutical companies, health insurers, and health systems. As well as many joint ventures and collaborative developments. Over the years, there have been many exciting developments:
Just this month, Walgreens announced that they were working with HealthPrize Technologies to develop a digital “game,” which awards points for filling prescriptions on time, taking medications, and taking educational quizzes about their conditions. The points will then be anonymously compared across all users and redeem points for discounts on health-related products (see Healthprize Technologies’ Digital Patient Engagement, Education & Medication Adherence Platform Offered In Collaboration With Walgreens).
In May, Vectura and Propeller Health announced that they were collaborating to develop an add-on digital sensor for the Vectura multi-dose inhaler for people with or asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The goal of the project is to connect the inhaler to companion analytics and digital interfaces (Vectura & Propeller Health Announce Collaboration To Develop Digitally-Connected Inhalers To Address Chronic Respiratory Diseases).
Last year we reported on a study of MedLink, a mobile intervention designed to assist with the treatment of depression in a physical health care setting. The MedLink program features a cellular-enabled pill bottle and app-based medication reminder system that sends data on medication adherence to the health care professional. In the initial research, the app has been shown to be effective in both increasing medication adherence and decreasing depression symptom severity (see How Do You Pick The Right Health Care App?).
In 2015, Otsuka and Proteus Digital Health, Inc. submitted an application to the FDA for an oral tablet that combines Otsuka’s branded antipsychotic Abilify (aripiprazole) with an embedded ingestible sensor device that digitally records ingestion. The sensor communicates with a wearable sensor patch and a medical software application to share information with the consumer’s care team about when the medication was taken. The system also tracks the consumer’s physiological responses, such as sleep patterns and physical activity levels. In May 2016, the FDA rejected the application and requested additional data. Otsuka and Proteus are currently working with the FDA to address its questions and provide the additional data that has been requested (see FDA Rejects Otsuka, Proteus Digital Medicine Application To Monitor Abilify Antipsychotic Treatment and U.S. FDA Accepts First Digital Medicine Application; Technology Combines Abilify With Proteus Sensors). The Proteus sensor technology is currently being used to help with medication adherence for consumers with hypertension, diabetes, and other chronic conditions (see First Clinical Evaluation Of A Digital Health Offering To Optimize Treatment In Patients With Uncontrolled Hypertension & Type 2 Diabetes and Barton Health First to Implement Proteus Digital Health’s Innovative Solution for Patients with Chronic Conditions).
In our new world of value-based care, medication management is fast transforming from a differentiating service feature, to an operational necessity. As some voices in the health care field have pointed out, these technologies will soon become inescapable. Michelle Longmire writes, “In the very near future, most drugs will have both a chemical and digital component, as every pill will have a companion mobile app that collects patient-specific data” (see Beyond The Pill: Data Is The New Drug).
For more on how new technologies are changing the market, join me on November 10 in Washington, D.C. for The 2016 OPEN MINDS Technology & Informatics Institute, for the session, “What Are The Impediments To Adopting New Technologies For Consumer Care? A Town Hall Discussion On Tech Innovation” – lead by OPEN MINDS Senior Associate Sharon Hicks.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated on September 1, 2016 to clarify language related to the Otsuka and Proteus Digital Health, Inc. FDA application