Medication Compliance: Is Mobile Health (mHealth) the Solution?

Updated on March 14, 2022

By Amos Adler, M.Sc.

When former Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop, M.D. said, “Drugs don’t work in patients who don’t take them” he could never have imagined the crisis in medication compliance would reach multi-billion dollar proportions – but it has.

According to studies, only about 50 percent of American patients typically take their medicines as prescribed, resulting in approximately $177 billion annually in direct and indirect costs to the U.S. economy. Besides an estimated $47 billion each year for drug-related hospitalizations, not taking medicines as prescribed has been associated with as many as 40 percent of admissions to nursing homes and with an additional $2,000 a year per patient in medical costs for visits to physicians’ offices. (NCPIE Aug, 2007)

The health care system is overburdened in large part due to patients with chronic conditions like Diabetes, Asthma and high cholesterol failing to take their medications regularly. Whether patients cannot remember, they are asymptomatic, they don’t like the side effects or  there is a lack of support or education, these are factors that can be changed. Part of the issue is cost of the medications themselves and the cost of helping a patient stay on therapy.

Don’t patients want to get better?

Combating the barriers to patient adherence requires a disciplined, and focused and cost-effective approach. This approach must encompass all the stakeholders in the healthcare equation including payors, pharmas and providers.  By looking at patient behaviors, motivations and understanding we can effect change at the patient level. On a systemic level; Payors can save on critical care costs, pharmaceutical manufacturers can stabilize revenues and the system can benefit from less drain on the economy and overall costs. Everyone stands to benefit from increased compliance, most of all…the patient.

It has been proven, using evidence based data, that personalized communications to patients will modify or extend the healthcare interaction beyond the point of care. Using mobile communication (mHealth), it is possible to keep a patient engaged with what is relevant to them while keeping them connected to the healthcare system. This can be achieved through  low-cost and scalable ways ultimately creating massive savings.

But what is mobile communication or mHealth as industry leaders have dubbed it? Typically mHealth relates to custom designed applications and systems such as telemedicine, telehealth, e-health and biomedical sensing systems trying to achieve the following.  It is the use of mobile communication through texting, social media, automated voice-calls, mobile applications and health IT interventions overall.

Ways it can improve patient care and provider profitability.

Primary care: This is enabled through telehealth systems. By exchanging clinical information, stakeholders can remotely monitor and create interventions to improve patient outcomes and improving adherence.

Open Access and Cost efficiencies: Patient access to electronic health records and personal health information engaging and informing while lowering the cost-barriers to navigating throughout the US healthcare system.

Health and wellness information. Health-related tools and apps are gaining popularity. These personalized fitness tools monitor exercise regimens and track everything from how many calories you burn to your weight and body mass index (BMI).

Public health research. The data collected from monitoring patients can contribute to population health research and surveillance of groups of individuals with similar medical conditions.

Mobile health is gaining significant acceptance within the healthcare world and set to grow to a $12 Billion marketplace in the next 5 years. Through patient-centered, mHealth based education, coaching, support and a precise mix of technologies and methodologies, mobile communication is quickly becoming the vehicle to bridge the intersection between people’s healthcare interactions and technology. 

Amos Adler, M.Sc. is the Founder & President of MEMOTEXT). MEMOTEXT creates evidence-based personalized patient adherence interventions using a proprietary methodology, PersonoLogic® inference engine, and HIPAA compliant communications platform. As the leader in speech, social and mobile medication compliance interventions, MEMOTEXT tailors and integrates behavior modification, education and support into the everyday lives of patients. He holds a Master of Science in Analysis, Design and Management of Information Systems from The London School of Economics. He can be reached at 1877-636-6898 or [email protected]

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1 thought on “Medication Compliance: Is Mobile Health (mHealth) the Solution?”

  1. Great article. Love this topic. Like I tell my students, there is a difference between medication compliance and adherence and understanding this diff is a key to accessing and assisting patient improvie the process. see here
    When ia patient is non adherent or compliant to execise, medications or wellness, it costs all of us. On an individual level, yes, patients and caregivers needs to take an active role in their health and medication management role by doing simple things before leaving their doctor’s office and after leaving their pharmacists from the pharmacy – We also needs to access barriers to adherence or compliance as well inorder to affect change or behavior.
    mHealth is growing with SMS programs, reminders, personal health manager apps, to interactive pillboxes to barcode scanning devices, gives healthcare providers options in assuring compliance. As exciting as it is, mHealth will only work with education and making sure patients are on the same page with the provider.

    Dr G

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