Friday, March 18, 2011

Drug Adherence Technology - Who is it really for?

There is technology that exists now that can pinpoint adherence rates down the the exact drug class and county. There are millions being invested in technology that identifies non-adherence probability in individual users. There is no doubt there is now more then enough data out there depicting exactly who, where, and when people are not complying to their medications. Great- we also know who, when, and where obesity rates are climbing- but is that helping the problem at all? They keep climbing.

It does not matter how many times a person is reminded to take medications if the experience is bad. Lets  take those "smart" caps that track adherence through a vial for example. A perfect instance of the end user not being considered. So lets say you are on three meds- you really want a cap blinking, buzzing, or sending "reminders" 3 to nine times a day?  Plus you still have to open the vials 90-180 times a month!? That is not a practical solution to the patient at all. In fact it may even decrease adherence rates by making it even more of a hassle.

Want a mobile phone app sending you emails 3-9 times a day? Of course if you don't have your pills with you at the time it doesn't matter anyway- you can still forget by the time you get home. A fine line between a reminder and spamming.

How about the "auto" pill dispensers that come with a instruction sheet designed for engineers. The 69.99 to 199.99 price points don't help either. Don't get me wrong- there is value to these items- just perhaps not as much as a person may think- and they only work for a very small subset of medication users. The last thing I want to do is discourage innovation, but what I do want to do is make sure we are keeping the patient in mind when creating them.

Obviously there is merit in using technology to increase adherence rates- but if the people creating it are not keeping the true end user in mind my advice to them is to stop. In the end- this is patient driven, and unless your technology actually improves the medication management experience- what is the point?

Most mobile or software based adherence tracking technology are simply creating a database big Pharma will use to promote their drugs more in that particular region. Yes, there are more uses for this data then for Pharma to get more leads, but I am just trying to be realistic. The people really making a difference are the caregivers, NP's, pharmacists, and educators of the world- people caring about people.  Lets keep innovating, moving forward and doing everything we can to help the person actually using the drugs get better.


1 comment:

  1. There is no doubt there is now more then enough data out there depicting exactly who, over here