Geisinger, Merck to collaborate on cloud-based medication adherence app

Geisinger Health System and drug maker Merck will collaborate on a web-based application to improve medication adherance and identify risk factors for chronic disease, the organizations announced this week.

First up: an interactive Web application to help doctors assess and engage patients at risk for cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.

The cloud-based application will be designed to integrate with any EHR system. Over 18 months, development will be adjusted on a weekly basis, reports MedCity News.

"A rapid learning process will be used to integrate, evaluate and improve the performance of each solution in primary care clinical settings," said Dr. Glenn Steele Jr., president and chief executive officer of Geisinger Health System. "We will closely monitor patient acceptance, treatment adherence, and other metrics to determine which tools and solutions have the ability to improve patient care and are ready to be deployed on a broader scale."

But an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer questions whether Merck's involvement is motivated by a desire to push its own drugs. 

Mark Timney, Merck's president of global human health for the U.S. market, told the Inquirer that the program will be brand agnostic for prescriptions. He said the pharmaceutical company will contribute staff time and energy, but not its products.

"Unless you believe that Merck has become an philanthropic organization, there is a marketing purpose behind this," University of Michigan business professor Erik Gordon tells the Inquirer

Although keeping patients on schedule with their medications would mean more sales volume for drug makers, it also could prevent emergency room visits and hospital stays, according to recent research. One recent study found that 63 percent of patients do not take their medication as directed.

And with the Affordable Care Act focusing on reducing readmission rates, healthcare organizations are looking at various ways to increase adherence. Two recent efforts included text message medication reminders for diabetics and embedding nurse care managers within primary care practices to coordinate care for patients with multiple chronic conditions and patients who require a lot of services.

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- check out the MedCity News article
- here's the Inquirer story


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