Aging Well in the Digital Age

Published Online: Wednesday, November 16, 2011
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As tech-savvy baby boomers become seniors, health providers are turning to technology to help older adults stay independent and out of the hospital. Getting them to take their medications as directed is key to that effort, and a new project from the Front Porch Center for Technology Innovation and Wellbeing uses text messages to make it happen.

The center’s Minding Our Meds initiative will study the impact of text message reminders in improving medication adherence among 150 active patients 50 years and older. The work is funded by a grant from the Center for Technology and Aging, a nonprofit dedicated to exploring technology’s potential to improve seniors’ health and well-being.

“We are very excited to show through this pilot how this easy-touse and affordable mHealth solution can meet the medication management needs of an active senior population,” said Kari Olson, president of the Front Porch Center for Technology Innovation and Well-being. “This is a great example of how everyday technologies can be tapped to meet the needs of older adults.”

To complete the study, the team at Front Porch is partnering with CareSpeak Communications, a provider of mHealth solutions designed to improve adherence to chronic disease medications. Using CareSpeak’s Mobile Medication Manager, patients can receive text messages reminding them to take a dose and confirm that they’ve taken it by sending a response text.

The responses are available to a physician or caregiver, enabling relatives and members of the health care team to check in with a patient if he or she appears to have missed a dose. The platform’s objective is to “keep people out of the hospital, connected to their circle-of-care and living independently,” said Srdjan Loncar, CareSpeak’s founding president and chief executive officer.

Through Minding Your Meds, Loncar, Olsen, and other partners hope to create a replicable model for applying mHealth technologies to the problem of nonadherence. The project’s creators will measure outcomes with help from Brooke Hollister, PhD, an assistant adjunct professor at the University of California San Francisco’s Institute for Health and Aging.

“Poor prescription drug adherence can lead to unnecessary illnesses, disabilities, premature deaths, and estimated healthcare costs of $290 billion per year,” said Dr. Hollister. “Should this study find drug adherence improved, the implications for the lives of those struggling with adhering to prescription drug regimens is great.”



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