29.12.2014

Keep taking the pills! Or how mobile can save bilions to health systems

Keep taking the pills! Or how mobile can save bilions to health systems

Image | epSos.de

You might think that not taking prescribed medication does not affect anyone other than the people who stop taking it. But this is limited reasoning. In the U.S, it has been estimated that these omissions lead to an additional annual expenditure of about 289 billion dollars, especially for additional treatments for those “forgetful” patients. This data is from a study by the NEHI consultancy , as reported by Bloomberg.

But regardless of financial losses and pressure on public health systems, these is also the deteriorating health of the people who refuse to follow their treatment. Several studies have been published about people not following prescriptions, including New Prescription Medication Gaps: A Comprehensive Measure of Adherence to New Prescriptions : the reasons are usually the costs or side effects of the drugs concerned.

Start-ups all over the world are addressing this issue by developing specific apps and services for post-treatment patient care, along with more advanced solutions such as virtual healthcare.

RxAnte presents an analytical data platform that provides forecasts and analysis of the impact of medication on patients and their behaviour towards certain drugs. This solution is aimed primarily at organizations in the medical industry (hospitals, insurance, supplementary medical services), but the indirect beneficiary is the patient.

Another company with a similar profile is eClinicalWorks , offering an app for patients called Healow which facilitates communication with the actual doctor and allows access to personal medical records. Among other things, it also manages appointments (and reminds you about them), informs you about test results and sends reminders about drug supplies. Medfusion has developed an application with equivalent functions: Medfusion Mobile . You can also pay medical fees with it, as long as your doctor accepts this form of payment.

Keep taking the pills! Or how mobile can save bilions to health systems

If you are looking for a more complete medical care service, not merely information management, then you can go to Better , a personalized health care service that provides mobile assistance through its app for iOS . Patient care is personalized through a private chat and an emergency call to a medical specialist feature included in the app in case of an emergency. Better even helps you to process the always cumbersome insurance procedures.

The personified service offered by Better means staff costs which translate into a monthly user fee of 19.99 dollars per person per month. The family pack is priced at 49.99 dollars a month. This initiative is a joint effort between the prestigious Mayo Clinic and The Social Capital Partnership. The service is only available in the US for the time being. Lauren Goode, editor at Re / Code has written a a recommended article about her experience using Better and American Well, an app for similar purposes.

There are gadgets was well as apps

Wearables and accessories are also supporting mobile in this foray into the world of “nursing”. A specific example is GlowCap from the company Vitality. This device is a smart lid that replaces the normal lids on medication containers. GlowCap “reads” the contents of the container, alerts the patient and tells the pharmacy to prepare the next batch when they are running low. If the contents of the bottle do not alter or are not stocked up within a certain time, it then alerts the doctor and/or relatives that the patient is not taking their medication.

Tracking prescriptions is a serious business. The first paragraph of the NEHI study indicates that about 125,000 Americans die every year from not taking the medication prescribed by their doctor. Personal devices such as mobile phones are key to tackling this problem.