Technology Engagement Builds Confidence in Patients and Caregivers to Manage Their Own Health
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
A recent Wall Street Journal article highlights the benefits of technology use to help patients with chronic disease manage their own health. Unlike the multitude of apps that have been designed to aid with exercise and lifestyle, digital medicine, (defined in the article as a combination of remote monitoring, behavior modification and personalized intervention overseen by the patients’ own doctors) is designed to improve the outcomes of patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and lung disease by providing assistance from their health care provider when needed.
Digital medicine strategies often involve smartphones, wireless devices and wireless sensors in addition to browser-based dashboards to increase the connection between the patients and their care team. They have been shown effective for the management of some of the most challenging chronic diseases. With these strategies, patients often feel as if they have more control of their own health while still supported by their health care professionals when they require additional assistance or have questions about their treatment plan.
These strategies include those for medication adherence, which is complicated by polypharmacy, when patients are prescribed multiple medications for one or more conditions, and frailty in the elderly. We designed spencer®, our advanced, connected in-home medication dispenser, for easy in-home use by chronically-ill patients, including single-packet medication dispensing and the ability for the patient to teleconference through the device with a spencer-certified pharmacist, who is notified when refills are needed. The entire care team, including the caregiver, stays connected through the spencerAssist app and spencerCare clinical portal. Our preliminary data show that 90% of spencer users take their medication as directed, much higher than the 40–70% that has been reported in recent studies.
In addition, digital medicine can financially benefit both the patient and payer. A paper published by Balkrishan et al in Clinical Therapeuticsfound that a 10% increase in adherence resulted in decreases in annual health care costs between 8.6 and 28 percent. Given our initial results with spencer, we estimate the payer can likely avoid $7,700 annually in expenses related to a lack of or inappropriate use of medications. Given that the annual cost of spencer is $700, there is an estimated annual ROI of $7,000 or a 1000% one-year return.
We’re excited about the future of technology use, especially given the increasing recognition of its effectiveness, as described in the Wall Street Journal article, and we look forward to expanding and refining the capabilities of spencer to build the confidence of patients and their caregivers to manage their own health, while easily connecting with their health care providers for that extra sense of security.