The Future of mHealth Apps in Medication Adherence

Work is still needed to achieve the significant promise of mobile health applications.

Mobile health care (mHealth) applications showed promise in medication adherence during a recent study, however, use app designs should be user-friendly to encourage use and training should be implemented to help reach the full potential.

In order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the current opinions that surround the mHealth field, researchers investigated peer-reviewed journals and Internet-based assets that matched up with mHealth app use.

Next, researchers distributed a questionnaire pack to MPharm undergraduate students (n=420) at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), community pharmacies located within inner city Liverpool and Manchester (n=500), and members of the general public within Liverpool City Center (n=400).

Questionnaires were completed from the pharmacist, student, and general public cohorts of 245, 333, and 400 participants, respectively.

In order to determine medication adherence, patients from each cohort were asked what strategies they used and would recommend to support medication adherence. The data showed that the general public relies heavily on daily routine to help individuals remember to take their medication (54.1%), while the mHealth app use had extremely low reporting (1.5%). This trend was similar among the pharmacist and student cohorts.

With the increase in smartphone usage, the age of the individual is something researchers found that needs to be taken into account. The younger generation was more likely to engage in mHealth apps compared with the older generation.

In order to promote the use of mobile health care apps, education and training is needed, the study noted. In the questionnaire, participants were asked if they would help with training and providing support to patients.

The results of the study showed that 82.3% of pharmacists would be happy to deliver training packages to the public, resulting in 84% of patients who would happily receive the training.

The biggest barriers for the use of mHealth apps were data reliability, security, and technical difficulties.

Members of the general public felt that the key concerns in mHealth apps were the reliability of information (young cohort 29.8% and old cohort 21.7%) and app security (young cohort 34.3% and old cohort 27.6%)

The mHealth apps were found to show potential in medication adherence and aiding health care needs. In order to bring these apps up to their full potential, designs need to be user-friendly, effective promotion is needed, and training should be available. Additionally, regulating adherence apps are a necessity to overcome any underlying patient concerns.

“Adherence apps hold great promise to support the patient and their health care needs,” the study concluded. “In order to increase acceptance and uptake simple, user-friendly designs must be considered and constructed.”