By: Rebecca Herson
Adherence to medical treatment has become a focal point of research for health organizations throughout the world since, according to the WHO, only 50% of all patients follow their doctor’s instructions, . Lack of adherence not only potentially leads to poorer health, it leads to an extra $100 to $300 billion in avoidable healthcare costs in the US alone.
Traditionally, adherence had been viewed as the patient’s responsibility; however this crucial issue cannot be ignored by health care providers, insurers, and even pharmaceutical companies. Pharmaceutical manufacturers, especially, are recognizing the need to invest in adherence, both since it is a clear indicator of customer satisfaction, and since it protects their renewable revenue stream. According to a recent article in Pharmalot, last year pharma companies estimated 25 percent of overall sales were diminished by a lack of patient adherence, and that they can preserve 31 percent of revenue through efforts at improving adherence. All this has led 71% of US pharma companies to establishing adherence teams and allocating budgets in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The startup world has their eye on adherence as well, and this week, two different companies have set out to meet the adherence challenge head on.
On Tuesday, TechCrunch reported that Mango Health, a startup company, was bringing a new mobile app into beta. The app helps raise patients adherence as it has adopted several principles from the world of social gaming such as the concept of rewards. Users are asked to self-report whether they have taken their medications by taking photos of their drug containers. The more the patient follows medical orders, the more rewards he is eligible for. These rewards include magazine subscriptions, discounts on groceries and gift cards. Mango’s app also reminds patients when to take their medications and enables them to learn how one drug might interact with another prescribed medication.
Likewise, Proteus Digital Health announced last week that its novel ingestible sensor has been approved by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Proteus’ sensor that is inserted into a pill sends immediate feedback once the pill has reached the stomach. The data from the sensor is relayed to a mobile app that can be accessed by physicians. Using this tool, doctors can learn when the medication was taken, thereby monitoring the patient’s level of adherence. In addition, Proteus’ sensor also monitors heart rate, body position and activity thus adding to the information made available to physicians.
These are just two of the newest methods for improving adherence, and we look forward to further innovations in the field.