BioSupply Trends Quarterly, an expanded resource from the award winning BioSupply Trends bi-weekly eNewsletter, brings up-to-date news, trends, perspectives and leading indicators of the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry in each themed issue. The latest issue delved into the topic of Patient Engagement: Trends in Digital Health Technology, where Compliance Meds Technologies (CMT) and its CEO, Moses Zonana, was featured in a piece titled “Revolutionizing Patient Care with Digital Technology” under the sections of “Improving Clinical Trials” and “Patient Adherence”.
Science fiction is becoming more of reality as medical technologies accelerate. From artificial intelligence in practices and devices that help physicians gather patient’s health data, such tools are increasingly coming to fruition. Today, modern practices and industries are catching up to new innovations to remain proficient.
Improving Clinical Trials
Pharmaceutical companies are collaborating with different organizations to implement technology in conducting clinical trials. Frequent and consistent data reporting gathered from patients are the top priority, thus providing better information for care teams and empowering patients to take on a greater role in the development of future therapies. However, a study drug’s efficacy can’t be fully understood if the patient isn’t taking the it as prescribed.
Moses Zonana, CEO of Compliance Meds Technologies (CMT), a medical tech company that focuses on patient adherence, believes clinical trials could benefit greatly from such technology by helping patients communicate with healthcare providers and researchers. “Pharmaceutical companies don’t have a good way of correlating use patterns of patients to efficacy,” he says. “So many medications might have been rejected because patients, during the course of the research, did not take them the way they were supposed to be taken. Many times, the medication could have been efficacious had the patients remained on track. While research statistics adjust somehow for those errors, it’s not perfect.”
A device that encourages patient adherence such as CMT’s CleverCap, which records dates and times of bottle access, among other data, could help researchers gauge efficacy much more efficiently and accurately. CleverCap and its various iterations could also aid in the opioid crisis by acting as a deterrent. “One of the features of our technologies is it can control and dissect when an overdose occurs, before it’s too late,” explains Zonana. “There are technologies to deter abuse, to monitor it and to curb it. We need to create awareness about that.”
Perhaps one of the biggest problems that can be addressed with medical technology is patient adherence. As many healthcare providers are aware, people are not always compliant with treatment plans. More than 40% of patients sustain significant risks by misunderstanding, forgetting or ignoring physicians’ healthcare advice. Forbes went so far as to call it “one of the greatest cost drivers in healthcare,” claiming that patient noncompliance costs as additional $300 billion.
Medical tech companies such as CMT are addressing these problems. They have developed and continue to create easy-to-use solutions that help doctors care for patients more effectively – help patients live healthier by allowing them to participate in, even if passively, their own care. “These devices provide visual or audio cues to patients to remind them to take their medication,” explains Zonana. “The patients can also utilize our app to stay connected with their provider with different engagement tools. All of the dosing information is recorded, real time, and uploaded into out cloud-based analytic system. The information is made available to providers that care about ensuring patients get better outcomes. The idea behind all of our solutions is to connect different stakeholders in the continuum of care with one goal in mind: Help patients stay on track with their therapies.”
Helping patients follow instructions is a tremendous factor in treatment efficacy, of course, and Zonana explains how his company’s technology can make doctors’ and patients’ lives easier: “One of the issues with some medications is that they have side-effect profiles or they have certain characteristics that patients might [cause them to] drift away from a proper adherence pattern. In some cases, it may have to do with having a complex regimen or the medication creating a particular side effect. By the information being captured real-time in the outpatient setting, where people dispense their drugs on a daily basis, then the medical provider, being either the prescriber or the pharmacist, can anticipate if a patient is drifting into low adherence or anticipate some erratic potential patterns of use that might create a clinical complication. And by anticipating such problems, they can reach out to the patient to help them remain on therapy as they should to get the proper outcomes.
Besides this benefit, Zonana says such technology also helps ensure a medication is given a fair chance, so to speak. “Many medical professionals today are pretty much in the blind sometimes, trusting what the patient says. Typically, the patient doesn’t really remember details, so there’s a high level of overstatement – patients saying they’re taking their medications better than they are,” he says. “Often, the doctor relies on that information and thinks that a particular treatment is not being efficacious on that basis. Then, he or she may over prescribe by resorting to a second-line therapy instead, or a third-line therapy instead. In many cases, the first-line therapy would have been as effective if the patient had taken it as prescribed. So, it may be creating toxicity or it may be creating additional problems by not having a better understanding of those patterns of utilization. While using our devices might cause a few more minutes of work for a doctor on the front end, they save many additional hours of work and cost down the road by keeping patients safe.
[CMT’s coverage: page 18-19]