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Digital & Innovation

mHealth proves better at medication adherence

Health Industry Hub | October 16, 2019 |

A new study published in October 2019 finds an mHealth platform that remotely monitors medication adherence is more reliable and better received than standard of care.

Why was this study done?

  • Tuberculosis (TB) is the infectious disease that kills the most people annually and is spread by droplets released into the air from persons with TB in their lungs.
  • Multiple antibiotics taken over many months are necessary to cure this infection, and if doses are missed or full treatment is not completed, infected people can continue spreading the disease, and antibiotic resistance may occur.
  • New methods to confirm that all the correct medication doses are taken and support patients over the long treatment course are crucial to saving lives and combatting disease spread.

What did the researchers do and find?

  • The researchers tested a new FDA-approved technology (Proteus Digital Health) that uses a sensor made of minerals that is swallowed with the TB medication and subsequently records the ingestion on a smartphone.
  • The sensor system accuracy was tested to identify ingestions and the researchers also randomly assigned persons with TB to receive the new system or the standard of care currently available, directly observed therapy, for supporting and confirming medication adherence during TB treatment for periods up to 29 weeks.
  • The researchers found the system was highly accurate and that patients using the Proteus Digital Health system were confirmed as taking 93% of their daily prescribed doses as opposed to 63% using directly observed therapy. In this study, the difference observed was mainly driven by the ability of the system to confirm doses 7 days a week compared to only on working days for directly observed therapy.

What do these findings mean?

  • These findings indicate that novel sensor-based systems that use a smartphone to remotely record digital data are as accurate as actually watching a person swallow their medications and can be used to confirm and support TB treatment 7 days a week, compared to 5 days a week for the current standard of care available.
  • However, this technology still needs to be tested over the full course of TB treatment.

mHealth for cancer patients

Earlier this year Fairview Health Services and University of Minnesota Health US launched an mHealth program for cancer patients that uses the same Proteus platform to monitor care management during chemotherapy.

The platform transmits time, dose and type of oral chemotherapy medication taken by the patient to the care team, along with biometric data such as rest, activity and resting heart rate. Care teams use that information to monitor medication adherence and effectiveness, and work with the patient to develop care plans that maximise clinical outcomes.

“Proteus’ digital medicine technology provides a more direct connection to the patient. It creates a way for us to achieve a lot of things that happen when a patient is in the clinic for infusions without them coming in person. Also, we can gain insights about the patient that we can’t learn from an office visit, like how the patient is doing with their treatment regimen while at home, on a daily basis.” said Dr. Edward Greeno, an oncologist heamatologist at University of Minnesota Physicians and director of UM Health’s oncology services.

Proteus launched its first ingestible sensor in 2012, targeting national statistics that indicate half of all patients don’t take their medications as prescribed, resulting in avoidable healthcare costs. In July 2015, the FDA expanded its indication to enable the sensor to be used in medication adherence measurement.

The company has been partnering with healthcare providers and payers ever since, expanding the platform for its digital therapeutic technology. Among those partnerships is an ongoing collaboration with Otsuka Pharmaceutical to treat patients with schizophrenia, acute treatment of manic and mixed episodes associated with bipolar I disorder, as well as depression in adults.

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