Wednesday, December 21, 2011

User Friendly Medical Devices Could Alleviate Medication Non-Compliance

In my last blog post I noted that one-third to one half of all patients do not take medication as prescribed and up to a quarter never fill their prescriptions at all. This non-compliance with prescribed medication costs the US health system an estimated $290 billion annually. These costs are associated with expenditures for unnecessary hospitalizations, medical procedures, physician visits and treatments. Despite this staggering number this is just a starting point as the numbers quoted do not capture such costs as lost productivity and deterioration in quality of life. I put the blame for this non-adherence on the high, unaffordable cost of medication, the fact that people are forgetful and neglect to take their medications and the fact that often patients do not understand the reasons why following instructions about when and how to take medication is so important.

However, there is an additional  reason why people often do not take their prescribed medication properly and that is because the devices that deliver the medication are not designed in a way that makes them easy to use. In fact ,some devices are so poorly designed the patient cannot administer the medication at all.

Cambridge Consultants conducted a study that found a direct correlation between patient adherence to a drug regimen and the design of the drug delivery mechanism. The 240 diabetic patients who participated in this study indicated that they did extensive research on drug delivery devices that they would be using daily, and made their choices, not necessarily based upon their physician’s recommendation, but on their own perceptions about how the device delivered their medication. These respondents almost universally agreed that they would be willing to pay more for a device that is more user friendly and efficient.

A parallel study conducted by Cambridge Consultant of 100 health care professionals also concurred that the usability of a medical device impacts patient compliance with the medication therapy.,

http://www.cambridgeconsultants.com/print.php?print=news_pr296

The design of medical devices is regulated by the FDA , although the system is far from perfect. It has been a long road to institute regulations and standards that require manufacturers of medical devices to design in usability, design out usage errors, and provide documentation that is user friendly. By no means are we there yet.

The packaging of medication in containers that are safe and tamper secure, while at the same time enabling the average, possibly  elderly patient to easily access the medication is no easy task.

Over time this problem is going to become more complicated as the increasing numbers of individuals with chronic conditions use a variety of newly developed home monitoring devices and medication delivery systems, many of which will be based on a smart phone platform. It is important that patients have the right tools to manage their health conditions and medications. This will only happen when patients raise their  voice  and express their concerns so their health care providers  will  prescribe medications that patients completely understand and can use without a lot of challenges.

2 comments:

Stephen L. Axelrod, MD said...

I like your blog. Have you seen the in-home medication dispensing devices like TabSafe? Complex medication regimens, PRNs, split schedules, 40 reminders daily,proactive alerting of possible missed doses, etc. with adherence reports that are web-accessible.

Harry said...

Hi, I came across your site and wasn’t able to get an email address to contact you. Would you please consider adding a link to my website on your page. Please email me back.

Thanks!

Harry
harry.roger10@gmail.com