Helping patients stay adherent to their medication is one of the top ways pharmacists can improve quality measures, health outcomes and decrease overall health care costs. When patients miss doses of their medications, the medications do not work properly and mortality and morbidity increases.
It is estimated that 50% of the 2 billion prescriptions filled each year are not taken correctly.1 Among patients, forgetting is the most frequently reported reason for nonadherence. 2
Some strategies for improving adherence include providing education, engaging social networks and setting reminders or automated alerts such as on a smartphone or app. A study recently published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research3 showed that mobile apps help to improve medication adherence, even for older adults who may lack experience with smartphones, computers or the internet.
There are a myriad of apps available to help patients remember to take their medications. The research carried out by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences5 identified 461 medication adherence apps on the iTunes, Google Play, and Blackberry marketplaces. The study identified these apps as the most trustworthy:
1. Mango Health (free). The app features a schedule for creating reminders, drug interaction warnings, refill alerts, and a diary. There is also a gamified points system; take your medication and earn points, earn enough and you could win prizes.
2. MyMeds Medication Management (free). MyMeds can send reminders by email and text, as well as push notifications if you’d rather receive info in your inbox. It also has a feature that helps you become more informed about why you are on certain treatments. One of the biggest perks is that it enables you to invite family, friends and your health care team to view and help with your progress.
3. MediSafe Meds and Pills Reminder (free). MediSafe can be integrated with HealthKit (iPhone) to keep track of blood glucose, blood pressure, and weight and can even save reports as PDFs. The app also helps users discover more about food and drug interactions. There’s also a fun side to this offering too, though. How about setting your alert tones so Darth Vader or Austin Powers tell you when to take your meds?
4. Dosecast Medication Reminder (free). Dosecast has a wide range of sounds and options for their notifications: repeating signals after a certain time, continuous signal lasting as long as you do not hear and do not come running to turn it off, and even a postpone option. With this app you can schedule your medication daily, weekly or monthly and set maximum number of allowed doses to avoid dangerous overdoses. Dosecast tracks remaining quantities of your medicines, sends refill reminders, and logs medication adherence.
So the next time you are counseling a patient, why not encourage them to incorporate and utilize a mobile apps to improve patient adherence? When we can encourage patients to create an automated reminder, they will be more likely to be adherent and reach their health goals.
1. Patient Compliance Medication Adherence: Statistics & References. http://www.cadexwatch.com/compliance.html.
2. Boskovic J, Leppee M, Culig J, Eric M. Patient self-reported adherence for the most common chronic medication therapy. Scand J Public Health. 2013;41(4):333–335. [PubMed].
3. Mira, J. A Spanish Pillbox App for Elderly Patients Taking Multiple Medications: Randomized Controlled Trial. J Med Internet Res. 2014;16(4).
4. O’Dea, N. Medication Reminder Apps That Think Outside The (Pill)Box. https://thesocialmedwork.com/blog/6-medication-reminder-apps-that-think-outside-the-pillbox.
5. Heldenbrand, Seth & Dayer, Lindsey & Renna, Catherine & Shilling, Rebecca & Martin, Bradley. (2015). Navigating the Flooded Adherence App Marketplace: Rating the Quality of Medication Adherence Apps.
Dr. Christina Tarantola, PharmD, CHC, CHt
Dr. Christina Tarantola, PharmD, CHC, CHt is a licensed pharmacist, health coach, hypnotherapist and Founder of Enlightened Wellness Solutions, a transformational coaching company geared to empower and energize people to take charge of their health! Dr. Christina is also a passionate author of three paperback books, Revealing Your Inner Radiance: Healing through the Heart, Reclaim Your Power: A Roadmap to Re-energizing Your Life and Lighten Up! 7 Weeks to Release, Recharge and Revitalize. For the last 6 years, Dr. Christina has been providing educational health talks in the Pittsburgh area, sharing her expertise on her monthly podcast segment on The Pharmacy Podcast, and creating relevant, informative health articles, YouTube videos and newsletters to empower her clients to live healthy lives!