Medication adherence, or really lack thereof, is a big problem. It’s estimated that about half of our patients aren’t able to stick to their medication regimens. And that comes at a price – up to 89,000 premature deaths due to anti-hypertensive non-adherence alone.

Physicians can definitely do a lot to help – simplify medical regimens, be cost-conscious, communicate better with our patients about their medications, and so on. There are also other opportunities to tackle this problems, such as Walgreen’s relatively simple text-messaging service, Refill Reminder Text Alerts, which reminds patients when refills are due and allows them to order a refill just by replying to the text message.

Walgreens new app, imaginatively called “Walgreens,” goes a step further. Available for the iPhone, Android and Blackberry platforms, the app provides patients with a number of tools that will hopefully further lower the enormous barriers to medication adherence.

As Sona Chawla, Walgreens President of E-commerce, put it,

“Mobile is an important channel for us and brings great opportunities for technology innovation and providing pharmacy features to millions of our mobile customers. We’ve extended the convenience of Walgreens pharmacy through a number of intuitive, easy-to-use tools that can be very effective in helping patients better manage and improve their overall health.”

One helpful feature is the Pill Reminder feature, which functions like many other apps by enabling reminders to take medications.

“Pill Reminder allows Walgreens iPhone mobile app users to track medication schedules and receive alerts through nine different reminder options, such as daily, hourly, weekly and other customizable selections. Reminders can be set up simply by scanning a prescription barcode and selecting alert preferences. Users can also add multiple prescriptions, vitamins and other supplements to a single reminder notification.”

Refill by Scan, an existing feature in the app, allows patients to order refills by scanning a prescription barcode with their smartphone’s camera. This feature currently generates more than 40% of all Walgreens online refills and accounts for more transactions than any other feature within the app.

The other addition to this version of the app, Transfer by Scan, allows patients to transfer their prescriptions from other pharmacies to Walgreens.

Refill by Scan and Pill Reminder in particular are the features of this app that help lower the barrier to medication compliance. While both are pretty simple, anything that we can do to help our patients manage the fairly complex regimens we prescribe them can go a long way.

Source: Press Release