Sean Glynn, M.S., is the Director of HEOR and Strategic Initiatives for HealthBeacon in North America
Zara Fullerton Kinsella, Medical Doctor, is the Medical Science Liaison for HealthBeacon
A physician recently described an interaction where a patient was ending a course of therapy due to a poor response to treatment. The patient asked, “What should I do with the leftover medication I have at home?” The doctor replied, “I thought you said you were taking all of your medication. Why do you have leftover medication?”
This is not an isolated event. One out of every two patients fail to take their medication as directed and have stopped treatment within a twelve-month period. For those of us familiar with the medication non-adherence problem, this is not surprising. Hippocrates was known to have said, “Keep a watch also on the faults of the patients, which often make them lie about the taking of things prescribed.”
Our generation is asking for connected devices to be a positive force for change in every aspect of health support, and adherence is no exception. The health and technology industries are making multi-billion dollar investments so that connected devices can fundamentally transform the delivery of healthcare. Technology offers a wide variety of solutions from smart packaging to robotic dispensers, the Internet of Things offers connected devices that monitor when medicine is unpackaged and even when a used needle is disposed into a smart sharps container. Mobile technology can remind and reward patients to help them stay on track with their medication and software platforms convey, synthesize and prioritize cohort data for clinicians. In addition, artificial intelligence can offer insights into big data and predict required interventions before a patient becomes symptomatic.
Getting health data from patients has challenged the industry to innovate. Our approach at HealthBeacon has been to use the Internet of Things to passively track what the patient is already doing, in this case, disposing of a used pen or syringe into a sharps container. By capturing this behavior and relaying the information to patients, caregivers and physicians, a key data point is created. This collection of data on a real-time basis can serve to increase patient engagement, lead to more informed clinical decision making and ultimately enable the early identification of patients who may benefit from interventions that focus on improving adherence.
If this patient had been in possession of an adherence monitoring device, their story would have been very different. Any missed doses of medication would have immediately been identified and shared with their healthcare provider or caregiver, enabling them to receive the support they need to maximize outcomes from their treatment.
Connected devices have the potential to identify and support those patients who need the most help with managing their medication. Given the magnitude of this group, these technologies have a transformative role to play in improving patient care and enriching the relationship between physicians, patients and caregivers.
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