The Future of Tracking Medication Compliance
POSTED IN Mint Presents
Mint Presents… is a new series of articles where we partner with pharmacy professionals to discuss new trends, break down common misconceptions and gain new perspective on medicine and healthcare.
Do you remember the last time you were given a prescription for an antibiotic medication from your doctor? You were probably told how important it was to take the medication until you “finish the course” – something you might have struggled with. This is a problem many people are far too acquainted with.
In fact, one of the biggest problems many patients face is remembering to take their medications regularly. This also presents a concern for many prescribers who are unsure of their patients’ medication-taking behaviours. No matter how correctly an illness is diagnosed, not taking the associated medication exactly how it was prescribed can impact how effective the medication is–a situation that healthcare professionals refer to as medication non-compliance. So, what can we do to help us remember to take our medications properly, meaning as they were prescribed? Some individuals choose to use a dosette (a box containing compartments allowing you to keep track of your dosages), or they may have their pharmacy blister-pack their medications if they must take several medications at different times of the day. Others may choose to use an app on their smartphones to remind them, and this strategy is what we will discuss today in further detail.
Key Features, Explained
Anyone who has tried finding an app, whether it be for fitness or productivity, would agree that it can be difficult to find an app that is free or affordable and has functions that are desirable. This problem also occurs when trying to find an app to help with medication adherence. Luckily, there was a systematic review conducted by the University of British Columbia that was done to identify some high-quality apps for medication adherence available in both the Google Play store and the iOS App Store.
Of the 704 mobile apps identified and available on both Apple and Android mobile platforms, a
number of key features emerged. These features you can expect to find on mobile apps include:
- An alert system (to take medication)
- Tracking (to keep you informed on your medication intake)
- Reminder system (to set refills and inform you how much medication you have left)
- Storing (medication information and history)
From there, apps can include auxillary features such as:
- Flexible scheduling
- Medication tracking history
- Snooze option
- Visual aids
- Customizable alert sounds
- Multiple users support
- Data exporting and sharing
- Languages other than English
The Apps That Can Keep You On Track
So now that you know what you should be looking for, the question remains: what apps should I be using? We’ve outlined a few mobile phone apps in the medication adherence niche that serve as great tools for patients to take medications when they need to.
Medisafe was ranked the highest in those apps classified as “advanced medication reminder apps.” Medisafe had the ability to track both taken and missed doses of medication, unlike those classified as “basic medication reminder apps”. Medisafe was also found to be the most appealing mobile app for medication adherence. It was shown to be interesting, entertaining, highly interactive, customizable, and to have a high level of visual appeal. Additionally, Medisafe had the largest number of reviewers that appeared to use it regularly and recommend it to others. Medisafe was also the only app rated as having evidence supporting its effectiveness in non-randomized studies.
The My Heart, My Life app was another app that this study ranked the highest as a “basic medication reminder app”. Created and maintained by the National Heart Foundation of Australia, the app achieved this rating thanks to its intuitive and ease of use and didn’t present any technical issues during use.
While this has yet to make an appearance in a systemic review, we would be amiss if we didn’t take the time to mention our very own Mint Health+Drugs app, aiming to make your Mint pharmacy experience a pleasant one. You can set a preferred location to visit, refill or transfer your prescription entirely online from the comfort of your mobile device. You can also create new prescriptions, book appointments with your trusted Mint pharmacist, set up a consultation at one of our travel clinics and access our library of health education resources. Our interest in making our own app was twofold; not only did we want to help our patients with their regular pharmaceutical needs but we wanted them to have something that was appealing and friendly to use at the same time. It’s that easy.
The Bottom Line
If you’re struggling to remember to take medications, mobile apps may be a helpful and promising tool to improve your adherence. While there are a vast number of mobile apps available in app stores for this purpose, only a select few appear to be of high quality but we hope this article showed you fresh examples of high-quality apps meant for the purpose of improving your personal medication adherence.
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