Electronic Pill Cap Fosters Medication Adherence
The Center for Connected Health recently announced encouraging initial results from a medication adherence study which used a wireless electronic pill cap to remind patients with high blood pressure to take their medication.Â Â The study showed a 27% higher rate of medication compliance in patients using the wireless device compared to patients in the control group.Â The device, called a GlowCapÂ Â and developed by Vitality, Inc.,Â fits over the patientÂs regular pill bottle and signals with light and sound when it is time to take the medication.Â Â (Hmmmm, I wonder if you can customize the sound like you can the ringtone on your phone.)Â The GlowCap will also call the patient if he misses a dose of medication, issue a weekly progress report, remind the patient that it is time to refill his medication, and share medication adherence information with the patientÂs doctor and/or social network, if the patient chooses that option.Â
One hundred and thirty nine patients were enrolled in a 6 month study which started in August 2009.Â They all were required to have Internet access and an email account.Â The patients were divided into 3 groups Â a control group that did not receive the GlowCap or any other communication services, an intervention group that received the GlowCap as well as missed dose reminder phone calls, medication refill reminders, and emailed progress reports, and an intervention-plus group who received all that the regular incentive group did plus a financial incentive if they exceeded a monthly adherence goal ofÂ 80%.Â After 3 months, it was found that the adherence rates for those in the intervention group was 98%, for those in the intervention-plus group 99%, and for those in the control group the rate was only 71%.Â The study, which is ongoing, is also measuring blood pressure control and patient satisfaction.Â The final report should be out this fall.Â
The Center for Connected HeatlhÂs press release about the study quoted David Rose, CEO at Vitality, ÂGlowCaps use real-time feedback loops to act on a number of behavioral motivators:Â reminders, doctor accountability, social support and help with refills.ÂÂ The study, even though small, showed that these motivational factors do work.Â It was surprising to me that the financial-incentive intervention group was only 1% better in adherence than the incentive group without the financial-incentive.Â Of course, when the total amount of participants is only 139, 1% is only about 1.3 people (or something like that!).Â
The press release states that the World Health Organization estimates that adherence to daily medication programs averages 50% for those suffering from chronic diseases and also that recent research calculates the costs resulting from non-adherence at $300 billion annually.Â Unfortunately, these statistics were not sourced in the release, but they are probably still on the mark, in my opinion.Â Increasing medication adherence will not only have a positive effect on an individualÂs health but it will also indirectly save a lot of money in healthcare costs.Â The GlowCap will help this as will the smart pill, the subject of one of my previous blogs.Â Modern technology may be intruding on our privacy, but in these 2 instances,Â it is for our own good!