Emerging wireless solutions for patient compliance



Whats the most effective way to increase patient adherence? The cell phone.

Patients will leave home without their glucometer, but theyll never leave home without their cell phone, says Ryan Sysko, CEO of WellDoc, a healthcare company that develops technology-based solutions to improve diabetes outcomes and reduce healthcare costs. Embracing the wireless revolution is a no-brainer for pharma, according to Sysko: Consumers expect things in real time. They want it at point of consumption. The idea that were going to send them mail that might take a week to get there really doesnt fit with the current paradigm of how consumers want information.

Cell phones, Sysko says, are the most ubiquitous technological devices on the planet. The rich use them, as do the poor. (Sysko cited an article from the Washington Post that revealed how the homeless population uses cell phones to manage their lives, from finding food banks to getting support). Likewise the young use them, as do the old. Just look at Jitterbug, a wildly successful cell phone designed for the 65-and-over market.

Here we have a way to really control the message to a patient and use the latest evidence to promote medication adherence, says Sysko. WellDocs solution is a cell-phone based platform that enables real-time, any-time communication between health providers, physicians, and patients. Patients get reminders on their cell phones to take medication. They have access to live coaches and wireless diaries. Meanwhile, providers can track them as they input information and identify where and when theyre diverging from their plan. We use [the cell phone] as a device to reach patients, to do things like not only remind them when to take their medications and when to test their blood glucose, but also to put their physicians instructions in the phone, Sysko explains.

So far, the data is compelling that a platform like WellDocs can work. In one study, published in Diabetes Technologies and Therapeutics, patients who used the cell phone platform experienced an average 2.03-point decrease in their A1C levels, while the control group experienced a 0.58-point increase. Additionally, patients who used the phone were more likely to switch to brands that offered such a platform, and doctors gave the product a 100 percent physician satisfaction rating, stating that it made the information they could see about their patients more comprehensive.

WellDoc is in the process of teaming with AstraZeneca to create a similar platform for allergies. Patients will receive reminders about using their inhaler, as well as useful real-time information, like pollen counts in their present environment. Indeed, the model is one that could be used for any disease and any brand that wants to become more engaged in customer retention. If patients arent taking medication because of cost concerns, the program can relay that information to the provider, who can send a message to the patients cell phone about patient assistance or coupons. If the patient needs more active levels of engagement, the provider can connect them to a live coach.

Today, you have a number of programs that are siloed, whether its patient assistance, whether its coupons, whether its live coaching, says Sysco. Heres a way to tie all those things together in one program for the patient.


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