Boston-Area Tech Tells People to Take Their Meds, Targets Billions in Wasted Healthcare Spending
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$290 billion per year, according to the New England Healthcare Institute, a nonprofit health policy group in Cambridge, MA. Yet the challenge for MedMinder and its competitors is that patients and doctors have few financial incentives to adopt their technologies, and health insurance providers often want to see studies to show the economic benefits of the systems before paying for them, according to people familiar with the problem. However, interest in the medication-reminder technology is growing, Shavelsky says.
“I’m encouraged to see many efforts because it shows that it’s a major problem,” says Shavelsky, MedMinder’s CEO. “I’ve really noticed that organizations are paying more attention to this problem and are taking steps to try to improve [medication] adherence.”
MedMinder’s pill boxes communicate wirelessly with the company’s servers, which store details about patients’ medications that enable the system to provide reports and automated messages. (Cellular technology is used to communicate with the servers when patients lift cups of pills from their pill boxes.) The system can, for example, send a patient or their caregiver an e-mail or an automated phone call if medications aren’t taken at the right time. The pill boxes can also light up and provide audio signals to patients as reminders to take their meds. Shavelsky says that his firm’s system can improve medication adherence from the dismal average of around 50 percent to around 90 percent, but the company is still working on proving this result in clinical studies.
The firm, founded in 2007, has made some recent inroads with healthcare groups with a stake in improving medication compliance, especially among patients with chronic illnesses. Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, a Wellesley, MA-based health insurance provider, said last summer that it would study the benefits of MedMinder’s system with some of its members who have chronic kidney disease. In September, MedMinder revealed that New York City’s Metropolitan Jewish Health System would test its system for six months with patients who get kidney transplants.
“We all believe that better medication adherence will lead to improved quality of care,” says Joseph Kvedar, director of Partners Healthcare’s Center for Connected Health. The center, which studies how IT systems can improve care outside of hospitals, showed last year in a small trial that people who received text messages on their mobile phones with reminders to apply sunscreen actually used sun lotion nearly twice … Next Page »