Technological Influences in Medication Adherence

Written by Rushabh Lagdiwala PharmD'22
Published on April 2, 2018

With the recent improvements in technology, scientists may finally be able to overcome the obstacles involved with medication adherence. For individuals who find it difficult to adhere to their medication instructions on a daily basis and are in need of assistance, cell phone based technology and specific adhering applications may provide a great advantage. For specific groups of people, such as schizophrenics who struggle with behavioral, psychological, or cognitive issues, this type of technology may be very beneficial. Not only will patients be able to make sure that they are abiding by prescribed instructions, but doctors will also be able to monitor their patients to make sure they are taking their medications as prescribed. Compared to the various reporting techniques that have been previously tested, preliminary results indicate that this may have a positive outlook on patient adherence.

The Schizophrenic Community finds it difficult to keep up with the medications they are prescribed. According to the research trials done by Ariel Berger, compliance was poor in patients with schizophrenia. This highlighted the difficulty of effective medication adherence techniques for schizophrenics. Additionally, Lacro and colleagues saw that specifically in a population where individuals had schizophrenia, only half of the population was able to adhere to any type of medication and that percentage decreased to a quarter in two years’ time. Looking at the adherence rate of this specific community, the pharmaceutical industry has successfully released drugs such as Abilify MyCite to the community. The drug pills come equipped with a sensor that sends signals to a patch worn on the abdomen. As the tablets are digested and dissolved in the stomach, the hydrochloric acid helps the sensor generate a current which runs the sensor. The sensor then sends data to the patch the patient has worn. This patch then sends data about the patient to a smartphone application via Bluetooth. With a drug that is able to track if it has been consumed by the patient, the doctors can see in real-time if their patients are adhering to the medications.

Dr. Ben-Zeev and colleagues decided to go even further with the idea of medication tracking. On top of the medication consumption that could be detected by doctors, improved smartphone technology could be introduced to patients to close the gap in the education needed for the improvement of adherence. The application that was specifically developed for schizophrenic patients included functions to assist with medication adherence, mood regulation and sleep and coping symptoms. Though initial testing revealed software vulnerabilities that lead to difficulty with application use, software adjustments have led to a successful application that may be evaluated in real-world conditions. This application, and others similar to this will not only allow for doctors to understand how often the patients are taking their drugs but will also provide advice and support to the patients in case they have difficulty following their adherence regimen. Seeing the success of technology associated with medication adherence, now there may be a suitable approach to revising current medication adherence techniques that are not as effective. Adherence information given by Abilify MyCite helps patients understand if they themselves are properly adhering to the medications that are prescribed to them. Additionally, applications aiding patients with assistance to help regulate their mood and coping symptoms could further help produce positive results. With more research and long-term trials, researchers will have a more clearer understanding if technological influences in adherence techniques improve upon the current methods that are used.

Categories:  Department of Health Policy and Public HealthStudentsMayes College of Healthcare Business and PolicyDepartment of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare BusinessMedication AdherenceHealth PolicyPublic Health