Apps May Help Adherence, Even for Non-Tech Savvy Seniors
A randomized control trial of 99 elderly Spanish patients suggests that a tablet app can improve
medication adherence, even in patients with no prior experience with the internet, smartphones, or
tablets. The study was published recently in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. In the
study, a tablet app for Android and iOS was designed with input and usability testing from three
physicians, four pharmacists, and 23 patients. The app, called ALICE, had three functions: a space
for storing information about prescriptions, instructions from a physician, and pictures of the
drugs; a system of alerts and reminders; and a monitoring feature wherein the patient would
indicate having taken medication and that information would be transmitted to a caregiver. The app
was given to an experiment group of 51 patients; a control group of 48 did not use it.
The study had modest but favorable results. Self-reported treatment adherence, measured on the
Morisky Medication Adherence Scale, increased by 28.3 percent between the two groups and the rate
of missed doses was 27.3 percent lower. Generally, the app did not help to lower medication errors,
where patients took the wrong drug or dose, nor did it show a significant effect on health outcomes
like hemoglobin or blood pressure. The experimenters hypothesized that the app was helpful in
reminding patients to take their drugs and reminding them whether they already had. Perhaps most
interestingly, the 55 percent of the experiment group who had never used a computer, tablet, or
smartphone, actually had slightly better adherence scores than those who were more familiar with
technology. The app was also popular among the experiment group: Thirty of the 51 said that the
ALICE app improved their medication use, 15 felt it helped to a certain extent, and only six said
it didn’t help at all.
NCPIE encourages healthcare professionals and community groups to foster patient–professional communication about medicines. However, NCPIE does not supervise or endorse the activities of any group or professional. Discussion and action concerning medicines are solely the responsibility of the patient and their healthcare professionals, and not NCPIE.
Please consult a licensed health care professional with questions or concerns about your medication and/or condition.