Faithful adherence to prescribed medication could save the country $8.3 billion in annual healthcare costs, as estimated in a study published in the August issue of Health Affairs1. With so much at stake, medical professionals are always in search of newer ways to affect patient behavior to reduce costs and improve overall patient health. Some patients miss doses due to the rising cost of their medications. Others skip doses as a result of busy schedules or because of the sheer number of medications they take. So the question becomes - how do each of us positively impact this situation and improve our patients’ medication adherence?
Dr. Anuj Bhargava, founder of My Diabetes Home, believes that the best way to change this trend is to empower patients to better manage their medications. Dr. Bhargava's solution uses technology as a tool with empowerment at the patient's fingertips. MedSimple™, an innovative smartphone application, is a unique and user-friendly medication management tool ready to download from the Internet. It is compatible with both Android and IPhone smartphones. The MedSimple app is free and available to the general public. The app benefits patients and pharmacists, as MedSimple subscribers better understand their medications and are more consistent with their dosing and refills.
The application assists patients by providing:
“I created MedSimple in collaboration with recognized diabetes educators and pharmacists, including alumni and students from Drake’s pharmacy program. The platform is unique – no other medication app is as comprehensive as MedSimple”, said Dr. Bhargava.
As for pharmacists, those who recommend the app see a more well-informed patient with a higher likelihood of adhering to their medication regimen. It's also helpful when patients are able to share a complete medication list when requesting a prescription. While patients with diabetes or those with chronic conditions are the most logical audience for the application, anyone taking multiple medications can use MedSimple.
Bhargava noted, “The reality is that 50% of patients with chronic diseases eventually do not take their medications as prescribed. That low adherence leads to twice the hospitalization risk and double the medical costs. What we set out to do is remove all barriers and obstacles our patients face in taking their meds and put the tools to manage medications –medication list, medication info, dose and refill reminders, and a lot of money saving options (coupons, prescription assistance programs), literarily in the palm of their hands. With MedSimple, we created the most comprehensive medication app available, unmatched in the market.”
Since its launch in 2011, MedSimple has over 2,000 Android and IPhone downloads. MyDiabetesHome.com, a website that currently synchs with the MedSimple app, has about 2,000 users and more than 12,000 Facebook likes. To help your patients take charge of their medications and save money, encourage them to download MedSimple on iPhone or Android or visit online at www.mydiabeteshome.com. Tips on how to recommend the app to your patients, how to process coupons from the app and free pharmacy counter displays are available by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
How did you get the idea to create the MedSimple app?
The idea originally came from the results collected during research trials examining the impact of technology on diabetes in early 2009. It was clear that technology can improve and simplify health care, something that saves patients time and positively impacts their health and understanding of medical conditions and medications.
What steps were involved in the development process?
It is important to keep the user in mind at each step of the development process. Interviews were conducted with several patients with diabetes and other chronic medical conditions about their issues and frustrations regarding the health care system. Patient needs found in these interviews were used to develop a prototype of what would eventually become the MedSimple app. This prototype was tested by patients to ensure a user-friendly design.
MedSimple is more than just an app. It is a cloud-based platform that maintains a current and accurate resource for patients and health care professionals. It provides immediate access to a full medication list, something that can improve patient understanding and save health care professionals time, while preventing potential errors.
What advice do you have for those interested in developing their own product?
Create a meaningful idea that you believe in and are passionate about. There will be many obstacles and challenges involved with turning the idea into a product. It has to be meaningful enough that the time and resources needed will not hinder its development. Learn as much about the problem as you can and always keep the intended user in mind.
Jha AK, Aubert RE, Yao J, et al. Greater Adherence To Diabetes Drugs Is Linked To Less Hospital Use And Could Save Nearly $5 Billion Annually. Health Aff. 2012;31(8):1836-1846.