Health Applications May Improve Medication Adherence

Patients with drug-eluting stents who used a tablet application had 10% higher medication possession ratio.

An application on tablet computers was observed to help patients with drug-eluting stents remain adherent to their medications, according to a study published by Frontiers in Public Health.

The application is called My Interventional Drug-Eluting Stent Education App (MyIDEA), and was created by researchers who study data-simplification to improve patient outcomes. The app uses a patient-centric narrative to remind patients of the importance of medication adherence, according to the study.

In particular, for patients with a drug-eluting stent, nonadherence can result in an 9 times greater risk of mortality within the first year, which increases 20% to 40% for each additional year.

"Non-adherence is often due to miscommunication between medical staff and patients regarding the purpose of the medication or the specific duration of the medication," said researcher Andrew Boyd, MD. "We aimed to address this gap by creating a patient-centered education application."

The application includes the patient’s own information, such as symptoms, treatment, and healthcare providers, to offer a more individualized experience, according to the study.

"MyIDEA then prompts the patient to respond to how their symptoms have affected their lives, ensuring reflective observation," Dr Boyd said.

Since the patients also can report how their symptoms have affected day-to-day activities, this may incentivize them to remain adherent to their treatments to prevent further adverse events. Preventing adverse events will likely also reduce healthcare costs by preventing utilization of related services.

Included in the study were 24 patients with a drug-eluting stent, 13 of whom received the intervention of MyIDEA. The investigators aimed to determine whether the software application could improve medication adherence in these patients.

The researchers found that patients using the application had a 10% higher medication possession ration compared with the control group.

Medication possession ratio is a measurement of adherence, according to the study. However, this measurement cannot determine if the patient was taking the medication as instructed. For example, the patient may have taken the right amount of medication, but at the wrong time. This reinforces the need for digital health apps to provide patients with detailed instructions.

The researchers found that patients spendan average of 21 minutes exploring MyIDEA, and its content.

"Results from this study are promising and will enable new and effective education programs to increase patient knowledge about their health and treatment," Dr Boyd concluded. "We observed that people spent a larger percentage of time on patient stories, focusing on problem-solving issues and critically thinking about solutions. This kind of patient-centered health information, used with an education application, is proving to be useful and progressive toward increasing drug adherence for patients."