How Technology is Improving Medication Adherence

One of the best examples of how technology is positively impacting patients is through improved therapy and medicine adherence. Patient adherence in the healthcare sector is defined as “the degree to which a patient follows a treatment regimen” and is important for all parties involved, from the pharmaceutical brands, the health care providers and most especially; the patients. However, there are many obstacles that patient’s face on their therapy journeys that can cause low adherence rates.

Challenges Faced By Patients

Patients undergoing therapy face a myriad of challenges that extend beyond the physical toll of their conditions. They often experience significant emotional distress during treatment, often manifesting as anxiety or depression. In addition, the financial burden of undergoing therapy and missed work cannot be overlooked, with a study published in the Journal of Oncology Practice indicating that 42% of cancer patients deplete their savings within two years of diagnosis. This financial strain is exacerbated by the fact that 25% of patients report lost wages due to treatment-related disruptions. Additionally, the toll on relationships is another factor,  as highlighted by a report from the American Cancer Society, stating that 65% of cancer patients experience strains in their intimate relationships.

Beyond these challenges, the physical side effects of treatment are often substantial. In the face of such adversities, comprehensive support systems and holistic approaches to patient care become crucial to ensure not only that patients stay the course on their treatments and experience the full efficacy of the treatment, but also the overall well-being of the individuals undergoing therapy.

The Reality of Therapy Adherence

The Health Policy Institute found that 66% of American adults use prescription medication. Many of those are patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, arthritis and cancer. However, according to the CDC, after six months, the majority of patients prescribed medications for chronic diseases take less medication or stop taking the medication altogether. The CDC has also found that:

  • 20-30% of new prescriptions are never filled
  • Medication is not taken as prescribed over 50% of the time

This prescription adherence issue isn’t isolated to the United States, in developed countries globally only about 50% of patients adhere to their medication after one year of treatment. Non-adherence to a treatment plan has been linked to successive hospitalizations, increased illness due to not being treated, and the need for medical interventions. Plus, the cost of non-adherence adds up across the healthcare system. In the United States, it is estimated that the cost of medication non-adherence is $300 billion per year, in addition to the failure to take prescribed medications costing over $100 billion a year in excess hospitalizations.

Patients often deviate from prescribed medication regimens for a multitude of reasons. The American Medical Association has outlined that the majority of non-adherence is deliberate and can be drawn from eight common obstacles such as; cost, fear, misunderstanding, too many medications, lack of symptoms, mistrust, worry and depression. Improved communication with healthcare providers through technology addresses and mitigates some of these issues related to non-adherence.

How RxPx Blends Behavioral Science and Technology to Improve Adherence

A long-term study conducted at Lund University found that patient education and counseling showed positive effects on medication adherence. Patient education also showed positive effects on morbidity, healthcare utilities and patient satisfaction. In addition, interventions delivered by pharmacists and nurses showed “a better result in improving adherence and outcomes than interventions delivered by general practitioners.”

Numerous tools and strategies, including technology-driven solutions, have proven effective in influencing behavior. Notably, behavioral science recognizes the absence of a universal solution that caters to every individual’s needs. Different individuals respond variably to cues and nudges. By adopting a behavioral science perspective in the patient journey, pharmaceutical manufacturers and healthcare entities can (1) categorize and target patients based on specific characteristics and (2) employ diverse outreach methods and tailored messaging for each patient group, addressing their distinct requirements and supporting their journey toward better health.

Technology serves as a powerful ally in bolstering patient adherence to treatments and medications. Research underscores the remarkable impact of mobile phone messaging, nearly doubling the likelihood of patients sticking to their prescribed regimens. Particularly, text message reminders have shown marked improvements in prescription adherence among middle-aged individuals grappling with chronic diseases, presenting a promising avenue for support.

Within the realm of SMS programs, certain key factors dictate their success in supporting adherence. Timing plays a pivotal role; a mid-morning text might disrupt a patient’s routine. Personalization, such as addressing recipients by name, significantly enhances acceptance and engagement levels.

Moreover, another study highlights the efficacy of smartphone app notifications, mirroring the positive outcomes seen with text messages. These notifications, observed in randomized control trials, have effectively bolstered medication adherence. Surprisingly, it has been proven that patients appear to exhibit greater honesty in their interactions with health apps when compared to face-to-face conversations with their doctors.

Within our patient-focused applications at RxPx, we integrate various functionalities like text outreach, app notifications, and email reminders, tailored to suit individual preferences. Personalization remains a cornerstone—we take note if a patient misses consecutive medication doses, leveraging these insights to gently steer them back on track. Our approach emphasizes intrinsic motivations, such as goal setting, recognizing their potency in empowering patients to perceive their progress as significant milestones, rather than relying solely on extrinsic motivators like gamification.

Read through the feedback from patients utilizing our applications:

“Very interesting, lots of information, medication monitoring and so much more THANK YOU SO MUCH. You are the first people I consult when I wake up, you are my daily routine. Keep up the excellent service.”

“I truly enjoy the app, I like to read the articles and what others are up to. I don’t post or participate often but I do check it out almost every day. Keep up the good work. You put a fair bit of heart into it, I can see that and I know others appreciate your work. Thanks again.”

Our tailored educational content doesn’t just scratch the surface—it delves deep into understanding each client’s patients on a personal level. We kick off by diving into patient insights, crafting distinctive profiles that map out a content journey tailored for each individual. It’s about getting to the heart of what motivates every patient, using that understanding to fuel their commitment to sticking with their treatment plan.

And the impact? These subtle yet powerful tactics yield promising results. Patients aren’t just another face in the crowd—they feel seen, understood, and empowered. They no longer navigate their treatment journey feeling like an anonymous figure; instead, they stand as empowered individuals, equipped with knowledge and backed by a healthcare team genuinely invested in their well-being.

Sign-up for a demo with us to learn how our applications can support your objectives as a healthcare provider, pharmaceutical product or brand manager or as a patient!