In medicine, compliance (also adherence, capacitance) is the degree to which a patient will follow the medical advice provided by their health provider. Most commonly, it refers to medication, drug compliance, but can also apply to other situations such as medical device use, self-care, self-directed exercises, or therapy sessions and supplements.
The FDA states the common barriers to medication adherence:
- The inability to pay for medication.
- Disbelief that the treatment is necessary or helping treatment.
- Difficulty keeping up with multiple medications and complex dosing schedules
- Confusion about how and when to take the medication
- On Physical Patient Adherence Tool
Before proceeding further with my thoughts on adherence tools, apps, and hardware, if you or someone you know is looking for a simple tool to remain compliant, have them sign up to our site to get started.
Medicine Compliance Technology
Recently I saw some very interesting physical medication adherence tools, these are $500 electronic gadgets, that seem like they are made by Apple and store up to 10 set of compounds that are dispensed every day at a pre-programmed time. It is a very “cool and hip” product and definitely will help those with some funds remain healthy and that is great, however, we have a tool in our pockets, or at most homes already, on a desktop that does the same thing.
During our initial survey of patients (especially seniors) we learned that many are not willing or don’t want to take an interest in even downloading an app that will help them comply with their medication. One of the top reasons patients do not comply with their medication is laziness, and the second being forgetfulness. These two reasons account for 85% of patient adherence levels, among those that have purchased their drugs.
So what did we decide to do after learning this? for better or for worse, we decided we will postpone building a mobile app for just a tad bit longer and make our web interface better. Wait, how does that make sense?
Well for one, our site is fully responsive so it should render great on any phone, secondly with our medication reminder emails, you will get an alert on your phone via an email app (which many people have anyway) or natively.
The seniors were not interested in learning or using a new app, but most had email software that they use to keep in touch with their relatives..bingo! The cost: free. I need to do some further research and surveys to determine how easy it is to load these devices and how often people are willing to “reload” them, I think some of them allow you to load up to 60 days worth of drugs.
Now creating a reminder app or even software is not a technological feat in an of itself, but if it is effective and it can help even a few lives, the difference is worth it, at least to us. I think the real challenge is leveraging technology to increase adherence rather in any way rather than fixating on a reminder app, with this mindset, we can take the whole picture into account, which involves all the steps. Why is this important? In the US alone deaths due to patient medication, noncompliance reaches $100 to $140 billion annually. Globally I suspect the cost is 10x this amount and will probably grow in the coming years as baby boomers age.
TrackMyStack Medication Compliance Tool (& How we are the best!)
If you are looking for a simple medical adherence tool for your friend and understand the need to use one, click here to read our step by step guide to using trackmystack as medication tracking tool and health journal. We are tackling the problem totally different than any incumbents: First, we have a knowledge base of drugs and supplements, it has taken a lot of time to do research/write just the main important information on supplements and drugs. So if a patient or user wants to quickly learn more about what they are being told to take, they can without leaving our platform, there certainly is no need to “Google it”.
This also removes the need for a medication compliance handouts that need to be given or the pharmacist’s prescription letter to be put up on the fridge as a reminder of what dosage needs to be taken and when. However, I think the number one thing that needs to be done is that physicians absolutely need to spend more time educating their patients about the problems associated with noncompliance. Information on side effects need to be drilled into the patient, and commonly overlooked issues such as when one may be feeling better, it is critical to still complete their treatment.
This, I think should be seen as the #1 compliance tool — something to ponder — is there any unethical doctors out there that may see noncompliance as beneficial for business? Let’s not go down that rabbit hole, as I don’t think it is a real problem that exists for most people.
The second thing we decided to do to improve patient compliance was journaling, journaling helps lessen the cognitive load, and it will help you record any symptoms or benefits you may be noticing from your drug or supplement regimen (remember reason #2 — “Disbelief in treatment”) so here we address that as well. The way we figure out what to build next is by talking to patients and thinking like patients first, then confirming our beliefs with potential studies to prove our hypothesis. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop once put it with his customary forthrightness, “Drugs don’t work in people who don’t take them.” and when a support network or a patient does not log an entry with adherence daily, the patient should understand why “the drug does not work”.
The #4 reason of confusion as to when to take one’s drugs and the quantity is the basic premise of TMS and I think we have the foundation in place and see people complying at a much higher rate than before. Another issue relating to the problem of disbelief is not the treatment being effective or not, it is that 20% of patients perceived possible side effects of taking them. We are working on releasing graphs and statistics as part of our info pages, where users can see which side effects are common and what other patients like them experienced during the course of their treatment.
Another less common reason, #7 reason for non-compliance is “Worries about the social stigma associated with taking medicines.” — I think by having a social network of patients undergoing the same treatment or taking the same drug, albeit online, may help alleviate any stigma that may persist when