Thursday, Jun 1, 2023

What is the Technological Future of Medication Management?

When a patient heads to a healthcare institution and is prescribed medicines, one might expect them to stick to the regimen to improve their health...

When a patient heads to a healthcare institution and is prescribed medicines, one might expect them to stick to the regimen to improve their health. However, up to 50% of patients fail to adhere to their medications as prescribed. 

And around the world, millions are taking medicines. In the U.K., over 26% of adults take prescription medications. Across the Atlantic ocean, in the U.S., some 66% of the adult population take prescription drugs. Down in the South Hemisphere, around 35% of Australians take such medicine on a daily basis. 

With those millions of medicine-taking people comes the inevitable risk of medication errors. In England alone, researchers found that over 237 million medication errors are made every year.

Ultimately, these add up to the losses incurred both financially and, more importantly, in terms of patient lives. One way to tackle these issues is through medication management. The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) defines medicine management as “the clinical, cost-effective and safe use of medicines to ensure patients get the maximum benefit from the medicines they need, while at the same time minimising potential harm”.

However, the methods employed have been stagnant for long and still leave room for improvements, as the numbers show. As healthcare steadily pivots towards digital health, what future do the relevant, novel technologies paint for medication management? Stick with us as this is what we will explore in this article.

Medication management, compliance and the empowered patient

When it comes to medication management, there are two key sides: the administrative (clinician/pharmacist) and the patient side. This means that issues can sprout from either end of the spectrum and at every stage of the process from prescribing to dispensing. Considering recent statistics from the U.K. alone, medication errors cost the NHS around £98 million and over 1700 lives every year; and researchers consider these losses as “definitely avoidable”. On a global scale, it’s easy to project the magnitude to be severalfold. 

This represents a significant burden that is preventable but that novel technologies in the digital health era can help address. However, the same era is defined by the empowered patient. Equipped with digital health tools, having access to their own health data and engaged in online patient communities, the latter are more proactive in managing their care. As such, being tasked to comply with their treatment regimen in the traditional, passive way is an obsolete, if not offensive, approach for the empowered patient.

The patient of the digital health age would rather be more proactive in this process. Engaging them in medication management can thankfully be made possible through digital health approaches and we’ll consider those in the next section.

Medication management in the digital health age

With the accessibility of connected devices and remote care, patients and their physicians can share a new dynamic to manage medication. Physicians can prescribe digital health tools to assist patients in managing their medications while also enabling them to monitor adherence. For their part, patients can turn to their doctors remotely in case of concerns. Below are 5 digital health tools that could improve medication management and enable this new dynamic.

1. Smart pill dispensers

Digitally enabled pill dispensers like the Hero Automatic Medication Dispenser and MedaCube deliver audible and visual cues to remind patients to take their medications at the right time and dose. Caregivers and physicians can even track adherence through the companion app.

2. Medication reminder apps

For a software-based option, patients can adopt apps like CareZone and Medisafe. These help manage medication regimens and can sync the data with a caregiver or doctor. With this approach, they can be notified when refills are needed or when the patient doesn’t respond to several missed dosage alerts.

3. Digital therapeutics

Other types of software also hold promise in the future of medication management, in particular digital therapeutics (DTx). These evidence-based, clinically evaluated software undergo regulatory oversight to ensure their safe and effective use as well as their clinical impact. 

One such DTx product is Insula, a prescription-only software that assists type 2 diabetics to manage their condition. It recommends patients personalised insulin doses as well as acts as a coach in managing their diabetes.

What is the Technological Future of Medication Management?

4. Digital pills

The longer-term goal would be to integrate a tracking option in pills themselves, and this is where digital pills come into play. While adoption is still in the early stages, some companies are working on drugs with ingestible electronics for adherence monitoring purposes. Of note, not all drugs will bear the same technology; as digital pills are more appropriate in niche areas where compliance can and should be improved with this tech. For example, patients with severe mental health conditions or the elderly having challenges adhering to their medications can benefit more from digital pills. 

etectRx’s FDA-approved digital pill gives patients more control over when monitoring starts. It involves a removable lanyard rather than a patch, which patients can remove after taking their medicine. Infármate’s SIGUEMED comes with a trackable blister pack, alerting caregivers when patients take a pill. A companion app informs of the right time to take the pill and alerts contact persons if a mistake has been made.

5. Telemedical platforms

All of these above options can be supplemented by telemedicine consultations. Through these, patients and physicians can routinely hold remote consultations to ensure proper adherence of patients’ to medications. The latter can in turn use such platforms to request advice or raise concerns with their physicians. Given their rising adoption as a result of the pandemic, patients and physicians can leverage the availability of such platforms for medication management.

While these tools hold promise in medication management and enable the digital health patient to become more proactive in their care, they are not definitive solutions. They might not be accessible in all communities due to lack of resources, but their assistance can nevertheless help put a dent in the avoidable burden associated with medication management.

Written by Dr. Bertalan Meskó & Dr. Pranavsingh Dhunnoo

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The post What Is The Technological Future Of Medication Management? appeared first on The Medical Futurist.


By: Pranavsingh Dhunnoo
Title: What Is The Technological Future Of Medication Management?
Sourced From:
Published Date: Thu, 03 Feb 2022 09:00:00 +0000

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