Writing a prescription is one of the most fundamental tasks that physicians do on a daily basis. However, whether patients take their medication is difficult to determine. According to an article in Mayo Clinic Proceedings (2011), approximately 50% of patients do not take their medication as prescribed. There are many reasons for poor medication adherence: complex drug regimens, communication issues between doctor and patient, and too many providers involved in patient care, resulting in confusion and inadequate explanation of side effects. Thus, there is no single solution to this problem. EMRs are very good at tracking what has been prescribed for patients; however, they suffer the same limitations after the prescription has been written.
EMRs provide access to more comprehensive information at the point of care regarding medication usage and potential interactions that can be identified before writing the prescription. In this way, they are able to contribute to medication adherence; however, there are some very interesting technologies that allow real-time tracking of medication adherence, including the following:
- Proteus Digital Health — ingestable sensors that are integrated with medications and transmit information to a sensor that is placed on the abdomen. The sensors are powered by digestive enzymes and data captured in the abdominal sensor can be transmitted to a device such as a smartphone.
- Smart pill bottles, such as those developed by AdhereTech. The bottles are wirelessly enabled and transmit data when the bottle has been opened. A sensor inside the bottle keeps track of how many pills or how much liquid is remaining and transmits this data to a central source where it is compared against the patient’s medication regimen and then sends the patient a reminder or notification if they have forgotten to take their meds or have not taken the correct dose.
- A mobile app developed by Mango Health that allows users to keep track of their medications and earn points for which a variety of gifts can be claimed.
This is a very dynamic and exciting area that will see significant growth in the next few years. Although these types of technologies are still in testing phases, imagine a future where you could look at your patient’s medication profile in your EMR and be able to see whether they have been adherent to their medication regime from data that has been transmitted by pill bottles to your system.
Will this help or hinder the care of patients? Do you see this type of technology being disruptive or additive to your daily workflow? To add your thoughts, click on the “Comments” link below.