Mobile Apps Fight Patient Non-Adherence
Digital marketing is a growing strategy for pharmaceutical companies seeking to get in touch with more patients. Through digital marketing, companies invite patients to become a part of the conversation. Successful pharma apps deliver rich content and can provide important, innovative solutions to common issues that drive patient non-adherence. These benefits have the potential to further patient education, increase adherence rates, facilitate trial recruitment, inform patients about new developments and promote companies and brands.
For example, NEHI Research estimates that “patient medication non-adherence in the US accounts for up to $290 billion in excess healthcare costs annually.” Non-adherence is costly to the pharmaceutical industry because if patients fail to adhere to their treatment regimen, the outcome of their course of treatment is likely to worsen. Payers demand health outcomes research that demonstrates a products benefit and value, and non-adherence can muddle the results. Therefore, pharmaceutical companies have a vested interest in improving non-adherence, and apps can equip patients with tools and incentives to correctly take their medicine.
One such app is Care4Today, a “Mobile Health Manager” created by Janssen. The app allows you to create a unique, secure profile where you can store information about the medicines you have been prescribed to take. When you search for a medicine, you have the option of selecting or uploading a picture, which is helpful because you can visually match the pill prescribed with the app management. This feature is particularly useful for drugs that come in several dosage forms. After a product is selected, you set the dose, frequency, and interval you need to take the medicine. This setting triggers a reminder message that alerts you when it is time to take a pill. After you take your dose, you can tap the reminder, and it goes away.
Patient adherence is tracked within the app, and Janssen makes a charitable contribution each day you are fully adherent. The adherence-tracking feature almost gives the management system a game-like feel, as patients are encouraged to stay on track and maintain a high level of adherence. The app also allows for family members to monitor each others adherence, streamlining organization and creating a network of accountability. Furthermore, the app is free, easy to navigate, aesthetically appealing and something most downloaders would find useful in their daily routine.
Figure 1: Janssens Care4Today App
Care4Today is an example of an intervention that combines the principles of effective mobile app development with incentives to address a challenge in the pharmaceutical industry. By catering to patients needs and delivering a product that simplifies rather than complicates medicine adherence, Janssen demonstrates its commitment to working for patients. Of course, the app will not fully solve patient non-adherence. It does, however, help patients feel empowered to manage their prescription schedules and see the value in following through on a course of treatment — an important step to changing individual behaviors and reducing non-adherence throughout the health care industry.