Dr. Michael Weber, hotshot cardiologist, Chairman of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, and all-around good guy weighs in on medication adherence and the value of apps.
The AP reports:
Medicine only helps if you take it properly. And adhering to an exact schedule of what to take, and when, can be challenging for patients who are forgetful or need to take several medications.
Doctors warn about the consequences and urge patients to use various techniques, such as using divided pill boxes or putting their pill bottles beside their toothbrush as a reminder to take their morning and bedtime medicines.
Still, only about half of patients take medication as prescribed, resulting in unnecessary hospital admissions and ER visits that cost the U.S. health care system an estimated $290 billion a year.
To help combat the problem, many doctors are trying a more high-tech approach: They're recommending smartphone apps that send reminders to patients to take their medications and record when they take each one.
"I think it's going to become pretty standard" for doctors to recommend them, said Dr. Michael A. Weber, a cardiologist at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. Weber began recommending apps to patients a few months ago and already has seen better lab results from a few using them.
"Some people say, 'That's a great idea,'" Weber said. "Even ones who claim they're conscientious, like the reminders."
He said the apps are particularly helpful for patients with symptomless conditions, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Those patients are less likely to regularly take their medications than someone with pain or an infection.
"I don't think they're going to change the world," Weber said, though he recognizes benefit of apps. Even so, he said smartphone apps won't do much to help people who simply don't like taking medicine, fear side effects or can't afford their prescriptions.
The full AP story can be found here.