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Tech Tools Tackle Medication Problems

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, July 16, 2013

Medication adherence is a multifaceted challenge that's getting a shot in the arm from technology developers. Glowing pill bottle caps connected to the Internet and a digital library of pill images with detailed data on drug interactions are just the beginning.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much could a picture of a patient's medications be worth?

A lot.

It could be worth $290 billion in healthcare costs, and 125,000 lives a year – the cost of medication non-adherence and medication errors, according to the New England Healthcare Institute.

Technology developers have not been idle. Vitality's GlowCaps, available since 2008, have made medication reminders a function of programming a pill bottle's cap to glow, and presages the coming age of the Internet of Things, when many objects of everyday living will periodically remind us what they are there for. It's definitely a space worth watching.

But the challenge of medication adherence is multifaceted. It's not just which medication is the right one to take. It's also knowing whether the patient took too much or too little, or if the medication is interacting with some other medication the patient is taking. As a result, other innovative solutions are proliferating.  


See Also : No Silver Bullet for Medication Adherence


One such solution is MedSnap, which premiered at HIMSS. MedSnap visually identifies prescription meds and comes along at a pivotal time.  

In June, by a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a $21 million jury verdict involving a woman who suffered skin burns after she took a pill to relieve shoulder pain. A majority of the justices said the FDA had approved the drug, sulindac, for sale, and that federal approval trumps a state's consumer protection laws.

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