In the era of information (and information overload), is there anyone who still doesn’t know that they must eat healthier, exercise more, rest better, manage stress, and comply with healthcare professionals’ prescriptions?
In the time of patient-centricity, it might be time to stop putting all the responsibility on people’s will to lead healthier lives and start considering other reasons why people could be struggling to achieve those healthy habits they aim to have. Having so much technology around us should make it easier to provide patient adhereance solutions and tools that facilitate sticking to a health plan and achieving better outcomes.
One known problem is missing medication, especially for those patients with chronic health conditions that require multiple medications. The World Health Organization reported that medication non-adherence is a global problem that affects approximately 50% of patients with chronic diseases1.
Tech and data can help alleviate the abovementioned issues through various strategies and tactics. For example, personalized alerts could remind people of the time, medication, and dose they have to take through apps on their smart devices (phone, watch, etc.). A study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that medication reminder apps can significantly improve medication adherence in patients with cardiovascular disease2. There are also smart pill bottles that can track medication usage and send reminders to patients when it’s time to take their medication.
Another strong technology ally is telehealth, which can fight several threats. A person with mobility issues or who lives in a rural area faces a massive barrier to health access. With telehealth, patients can receive medical care from the comfort of their own homes. Additionally, telehealth can reduce the number of missed appointments, as patients can receive care without having to travel to a healthcare facility.
There is much to do to achieve better treatment adherence through the enhanced engagement that omnichannel marketing can bring—providing patients with a seamless and integrated experience across different channels, such as in-person appointments, telehealth visits, mobile apps, social media, etc. By providing patients with multiple options for accessing care and support, they may be more likely to adhere to their treatment plans.
Patients might go through a complete experience where they book an appointment through a digital patient portal, have the appointment in-person with their healthcare professional, use a mobile app to track their medication adherence, and receive personalized social media or email support. This approach allows patients to engage with their healthcare providers and treatment plans in a way that is convenient, personalized, and accessible to them.
Finally, one promising healthtech solution is gamification. By incorporating game-like elements, such as points, rewards, and challenges, into healthcare apps and programs, patients may be more motivated to adhere to their treatment plans. Gamification can also help patients better understand their health by presenting information in a fun and engaging way. According to a systematic review published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, gamification has been shown to improve treatment adherence for a variety of health conditions, including diabetes, asthma, and mental health disorders.
It is also worth mentioning that some other state-of-the-art technologies are currently being researched and developed, such as virtual/augmented reality to deliver cognitive-behavioral therapy interventions or social robots to provide emotional support and reminders to patients for taking their medications or attending appointments. Still, we will park this discussion for the (near) future.
In conclusion, as everyone may notice in their daily lives, technology and data can be a very useful and powerful tool to help streamline the adherence issue with the ultimate goal of assisting patients to live healthier lives.
- Sabaté, E. (2003). Adherence to long-term therapies: Evidence for action. World Health Organization
- Chen, H. Y., Bai, G., Wang, H., & Xie, B. (2020). Mobile applications for improving medication adherence in cardiovascular diseases: A systematic review. Health Informatics Journal, 26(1), 389-401