We often hear about the digitization of the healthcare industry with suggestions that the web, mobile devices, big data, and cloud computing can fundamentally change outcomes for patients. While it seems totally logical that this is the case, an industry as careful as the healthcare sector needs empirical evidence before accepting a hypothesis outright. Which is why a survey that IMS Health undertook on behalf of Medisafe is an important read.
Medisafe offers a mobile application that fills the role of being a "virtual pillbox." There is a space with many different solutions, from traditional paper-based reminder systems to applications and on to fully integrated devices like one I covered awhile ago, this space has a bunch of people all striving to ensure patients take their medications correctly. But who's to say that these reminder systems actually work? And what do clinicians see in terms of bottom-line outcomes from these systems?
According to this survey, patients taking cholesterol, hypertension, and diabetes medication who were using a reminder system (in this case, Medisafe's system) had 10.7%, 5.4%, and 7.7% higher adherence respectively than a control group of non-users over a multi-month period. The survey focused on the three conditions of hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes for some very good reasons:
- Their prevalence in the U.S. (and global) populations: Today, 73.5 million adults (31.7%) in the U.S. have high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol, 77.9 million have high blood pressure and 29 million have diabetes.
- Their connection to major health complications (e.g. heart attack, stroke, kidney disease) when undertreated: Prior research shows a continuous decrease in hospitalization risk and total healthcare cost (i.e. medical plus drug costs) when medication adherence rises across the spectrum.
- The high cost associated with non-adherence: In 2010, the total direct national cost of non-adherence amongst adults for all three conditions was estimated to be $105.8 billion.
- Other key drivers and incentives to reduce healthcare costs: Medications for all three conditions are included in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) Quality Measures for Medicare Part D.
The results are pretty conclusive, and while this is a test for Medisafe's solution, I'd suggest it can be extended to indicate better adherence for any medication management platform.
While Medisafe-specific, one doctor's viewpoint can be seen as putting a case for broadening the usage of digital medication management systems generally:
"As a diabetic and a doctor, I'm well aware of the short-term discomfort of missing medications as well as the long-term impact from poor blood glucose control that often leads to serious – and costly – complications later in life," said Dr. Daniel Mosby, a Medisafe user and junior doctor from the United Kingdom. "Personally, achieving 100% adherence with Medisafe has made an immense difference in my immediate well-being and is an investment in my long-term health. Professionally, these latest data points only reinforce my belief that the Medisafe application is a great option for healthcare providers who need to assist their patient population with adherence."
Empirical data is always welcome, especially so in the healthcare sector. This report is a strong justification for increased usage of these sort of platforms.
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