Medication adherence improves for patients using Pill Phone app

Mobile health can be effective, at least in prompting patients to take their medication, if the results of a small study--whose findings were presented in Washington, D.C. last week--are any indication.

The study, conducted by researchers at George Washington University Medical Center, focused on patients suffering from hypertension and living in underserved areas who utilized Vocel's Pill Phone application on cell phones provided by Cricket Wireless. The app allows patients to input all of their current medications, then reminds them to take their medicine via various alarm functions. It also lists all of the side effects the various drug interactions can cause.

The app is based on "The Pill Book", a reference guide used by doctors and pharmacists that lists every pill currently on the market and includes pictures and descriptions.

Fifty Medicaid patients were recruited by One Economy--a nonprofit that tries to promote broadband use in disadvantaged areas--and supplied, free of charge, with the phones carrying the Pill Phone app from January through August. All but two patients finished the study, according to Robert Jarrin, Director of Government Affairs for Qualcomm, which funded the study. Jarrin, who called the results of the study "promising," told FierceMobileHealthcare that, for the most part, the patients who participated were satisfied. He also said there was a trend toward increased prescription refill rates.

"Unfortunately the study didn't go on for a few years," Jarrin said. "That would have, I think, yielded a wealth more of information. It was a short timeframe and a small amount of people."

Jarrin said that Qualcomm is looking to get involved in similar studies, and added that the ultimate goal of this study was to learn more about how to care for patients with chronic diseases, not just those with high blood pressure, a sentiment echoed by Dr. Richard Katz, director of the division of cardiology at The George Washington University Hospital.

"The importance of the Pill Phone Research Study is that it offers a model for disease self-management that can be applied to at-risk communities," Katz said.

To learn more:
- read this announcement regarding the study's results