Tools to help patients manage complicated medication regimens have taken off in the past few years and with good reason. Difficulty with medication adherence has been associated with worse outcomes for many health conditions and billions of dollars in additional costs.
We’ve reviewed a variety of apps and other tools for medication management. And while there are several simple medication tracking apps out there, we’ve also seen several apps go a step further. And that’s important because medication non-adherence is a multi-factorial problem.
A new partnership between Medisafe, a medication tracking app, and Human API, a platform that captures a wide range of health data, aims to deliver an important new approach to tackling this challenge.
We’ve covered a number of other interesting apps that apply interesting strategies to medication management. Mango Health is one that got our attention last year. Mango gives users small rewards from a variety of retailers for taking their medications. That small addition can have a surprising effect on how motivated a user is to track (and hopefully actually take) their medications. Another interesting approach by Patient Partner uses gamification to help educate patients about how their decisions regarding their medications affect their health. In a small study involving diabetic patients, use of the app increased medication adherence by 37%.
MediSafe, a medication tracking app that impressed us in our review, recently announced plans to integrate patient data like weight, lab results, and activity through a partnership with Human API. The vision is to create a tool that lets patients see the impact that their medications are having on their health. While Medisafe already offered the ability to track some health data, like weight or blood pressure, this partnership will allow integration of data from a much broader range of sources such as lab testing.
For example, consider a patient with hypertension. Seeing blood pressures drop from the 160s to the 140s after starting chlorthalidone, cutting down on salt, and starting a walking program, could provide potent positive reinforcement, showing the patient that their actions are leading to direct health benefits. Add on to that estimates for how much their risk of stroke and heart attack has been reduced by improvements to their blood pressure, LDL, and exercise tolerance and we could help patients understand in concrete, direct terms why they are investing all this time and effort into managing their blood pressure.
Right now, that scenario is speculation. The partnership is pretty new and it remains to be seen how Medisafe will implement. I hope to see a strategic and focused approach. Rather than simply dumping a ton of data into another tab in Medisafe, it would be nice to see some focus in particular on high impact chronic conditions. Implementing strategies based on appropriate behavior change theory and available clinical evidence could make Medisafe a really powerful and unique tool.