Study: Pediatric med adherence apps need quality boost, collaborative attention

There is a lack of iOS mobile health apps for pediatric medication adherence, and those apps that are available need deeper content and richer educational and behavioral features to boost usefulness, according to a study published online this month in Telemedicine and e-Health.

The research investigation into 101 Apple apps reveals that while most of the apps examined boasted a medication name storage aspect and reminder feature, none were built specifically for pediatric use; 68 percent provide a dosage storage aspect.

The authors say there is a need to increase collaboration between providers and app developers to enhance quality of medication reminder apps for the pediatric environment.

"Mobile health medication reminder apps may be a useful supplement to traditional adherence-promotion interventions for pediatric chronic illness populations because they can give real-time reminders and provide education and promote behavior modification [components known to enhance adherence in traditional interventions] in an engaging and developmentally acceptable way," the authors say. "Greater attention to educational and behavioral modification features may enhance the usefulness of medication reminder apps for pediatric groups."

In December, UCLA and USC announced a $6 million research project to use smartphones and smartwatches to help young asthma sufferers improve their health. Additionally, Dallas-based Children's Hospital recently developed an app it hopes will spur young patients into proactive management of asthma, along with a version that will integrate with patients' electronic health records.

The researchers note there is "significant" room for improvement with pediatric medication reminder apps.

"Greater attention to the usability of apps with high-quality content may be useful in promoting their use for pediatric patients with chronic medical conditions and their parents," they say. "Given the limitations of existing medication reminder apps, greater collaboration between pediatric adherence-promotion scientists and app developers is needed."

For more information:
- here's the Telemedicine and e-Health abstract