Medication Adherence

“Increasing the effectiveness of adherence interventions may have a far greater impact on the health of the population than any improvement in specific medical treatments.” – Dr Brian Haynes


Green capsules in blister pack

Poor adherence to prescribed medication is a serious problem across all medical conditions – perhaps 30% – 50% of medication is not taken as prescribed. Poor adherence has negative consequences for all stakeholders, and the interests of all stakeholders should be aligned with the objective of improving adherence.

There is good evidence that electronic monitoring of medication adherence coupled with patient feedback is effective at improving adherence. A Dutch study monitored patients on oral diabetes medication, sending them text messages only when they forgot their medication. Significant improvement in adherence was found (63% to 80%) and importantly the improved adherence was maintained at 12 months and 24 months. A similar approach with Chinese HIV patients also showed good improvement adherence. They conclude that ‘smart reminders’ that are sent to patients only when their behavior suggests a need for reminding is a promising approach in the management of HIV and other chronic diseases.

While in the past this remote monitoring technology has been prohibitively expensive for routine use, this is no longer the case.

Our vision is that monitoring of medication use becomes routine.

Acute Technology is developing inexpensive sensors that clip onto medication packaging and record when someone takes their medication. This data can be sent to the cloud, enabling appropriate interventions to improve adherence, and so to improve outcomes for the patient and their family.

Internet of Things for Medication Packaging

This video shows what we are working on: inexpensive Bluetooth sensors that clip onto unmodified medication packaging, sending timestamps to the cloud and permitting a variety of interventions – by the patient, their family and their healthcare professionals.

The SmartMDS Project

We’ve also looked at the problem of monitoring medication supplied in weekly medicine trays – sometimes called monitored dosing systems or MDS. Here the problem is compounded by the likelihood that the typical user of these trays won’t have – or can’t use – smart phone. That is where the Hydra Communications Gateway comes in. This video shows what we did.