Electronic aids help patients stick with Rx regimens

Articles
November 10, 2008

Electronic aids help patients stick with Rx regimens

Senior citizens on limited incomes are a poignant example of consumers who often choose to take fewer prescribed medicines so they can save money for food, shelter and gasoline. They brave long-term consequences to help meet short-term needs. They play with fire when they (and other patient segments) don’t follow doctors’ instructions. Many skip doses or cut pills in half, and can soon forget what they’re supposed to do, suggest IMS figures, which marked the end of a 10-year growth streak in prescriptions filled. In 2007, 3.8 billion scripts were filled, an average of 12.6 per person. Millions of other patients with difficult health conditions do want to abide by their physicians’ instructions, but have a hard time managing a half-dozen or more medications daily. Both types of groups—the money-pinched or lackadaisical, and the conformists—risk losing their way with powerful drugs that could harm them if taken incorrectly, or with the wrong foods or other medications.

Senior citizens on limited incomes are a poignant example of consumers who often choose to take fewer prescribed medicines so they can save money for food, shelter and gasoline. They brave long-term consequences to help meet short-term needs.

They play with fire when they (and other patient segments) don’t follow doctors’ instructions. Many skip doses or cut pills in half, and can soon forget what they’re supposed to do, suggest IMS figures, which marked the end of a 10-year growth streak in prescriptions filled. In 2007, 3.8 billion scripts were filled, an average of 12.6 per person.

Millions of other patients with difficult health conditions do want to abide by their physicians’ instructions, but have a hard time managing a half-dozen or more medications daily.

Both types of groups—the money-pinched or lackadaisical, and the conformists—risk losing their way with powerful drugs that could harm them if taken incorrectly, or with the wrong foods or other medications.

Enter new technologies to keep patients on the right track.
? The Zuri hand-held device from Zume Life, which is in beta, issues reminders and enables patients to record their compliance with regard to Rx and OTC medications, and tracks and charts health metrics (weight, blood pressure, pulse, blood glucose levels), symptoms, exercise and food journals.
? The FDA-approved Intel Health Guide interfaces wirelessly with blood glucose meters and other diagnostic devices to collect the vital signs of chronically ill consumers, transmits encrypted data over the Internet, and hosts video conferences between patients and physicians.
? Microsoft HealthVault is a personal health record of conditions, medicines, allergies and lab readings that resides in an online database accessible to health care providers.
? MyMedicalRecords.com, an integrated service on the Google Health platform, is a personal health record that also includes radiology reports and images, progress notes and charts, a calendar for prescription refills and more.

These electronic supports will serve a market of the chronically ill due to reach 160 million by 2020, up from nearly 125 million in 2000, according to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

As long as privacy issues are absolutely respected, these technologies will bring individual patient empowerment to the fore. They foster real-time health care collaboration and make people more able to be more responsible for their own well being.