Free apps can help patients track cravings, monitor triggers, and stay motivated
Tobacco use leads to more than 8 million deaths globally each year and approximately 1.3 million of these deaths are nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke.1 Only 30% of tobacco users have tools at their disposal to help them quit smoking successfully.1 The World Health Organization developed the tobacco cessation consortium, one of whose main goals is to incorporate technology resources globally for smoking cessation.2 Pharmacists play an important role in smoking cessation education by incorporating technology into medication therapy management (MTM) consults (see Figure).
TECHNOLOGY AND SMOKING CESSATION EDUCATION
According to a report from the National Cancer Institute’s Health Information National Trends Survey, over 12 million US adult smokers search the internet annually for smoking cessation information.3 The survey asks US adults about their internet use over the past year3 and demonstrates the important role technology can play in the decision making process for patients.
Telehealth expands access to smoking cessation services. For example, live videoconferencing is a popular virtual face-to-face method for pharmacists to provide smoking cessation education.4 Medicare and Medicaid typically reimburse for these services and pharmacists can discuss pharmacotherapy options for smoking cessation during MTM consults, such as OTC nicotine replacement therapies (eg, gum, patch, lozenges).4 Telehealth provides a convenient option for individuals unable to travel because of transportation or health issues.
There are free apps available to help patients quit smoking. QuitGuide and quitSTART are examples of smartphone apps available through smokefree.gov.5,6 Pharmacists can educate patients about the different app features.
QuitGuide includes the following features5:
The quitSTART app includes the following features6:
One study compared the usability and acceptability of the QuitGuide and quitSTART apps among young adult smokers with serious mental illness.7 Study participants completed questionnaires regarding demographics, tobacco use, technology use, and app feature preferences.7 The study data revealed that participants found the QuitGuide and quitSTART apps to be usable and appealing.7 However, individuals were more engaged with the quitSTART app.7
There is also a free National Texting Portal for smoking cessation support for US adults 18 years and older.8 However, patients should check with their mobile service provider about any fees from message and data rates. The services provide evidence-based support, tips, and advice for quitting smoking.8 Smokefree.gov has developed a variety of free text messaging programs that provide 24/7 services.9 Pharmacists can play an important role in educating patients about these programs as part of smoking cessation MTM consults (Table)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPH, PACS, is a drug information pharmacist and Pharmacy Times contributor who resides in South Florida.