Background: Medication adherence remains a difficult problem to both assess and improve in patients. It is a multifactorial problem that goes beyond the commonly cited reason of forgetfulness. To date, eHealth (also known as mHealth and telehealth) interventions to improve medication adherence have largely been successful in improving adherence. However, interventions to date have used time- and cost-intensive strategies or focused solely on medication reminding, leaving much room for improvement in using a modality as flexible as eHealth. Objective: Our objective was to develop and implement a fully automated short message service (SMS)-based medication adherence system, EpxMedTracking, that reminds patients to take their medications, explores reasons for missed doses, and alerts providers to help address problems of medication adherence in real time. Methods: EpxMedTracking is a fully automated bidirectional SMS-based messaging system with provider involvement that was developed and implemented through Epharmix, Inc. Researchers analyzed 11 weeks of de-identified data from patients cared for by multiple provider groups in routine community practice for feasibility and functionality. Patients included were those in the care of a provider purchasing the EpxMedTracking tool from Epharmix and were enrolled from a clinic by their providers. The primary outcomes assessed were the rate of engagement with the system, reasons for missing doses, and self-reported medication adherence. Results: Of the 25 patients studied over the 11 weeks, 3 never responded and subsequently opted out or were deleted by their provider. No other patients opted out or were deleted during the study period. Across the 11 weeks of the study period, the overall weekly engagement rate was 85.9%. There were 109 total reported missed doses including “I forgot” at 33 events (30.3%), “I felt better” at 29 events (26.6%), “out of meds” at 20 events (18.4%), “I felt sick” at 19 events (17.4%), and “other” at 3 events (2.8%). We also noted an increase in self-reported medication adherence in patients using the EpxMedTracking system. Conclusions: EpxMedTracking is an effective tool for tracking self-reported medication adherence over time. It uniquely identifies actionable reasons for missing doses for subsequent provider intervention in real time based on patient feedback. Patients enrolled on EpxMedTracking also self-report higher rates of medication adherence over time while on the system.
- Medication adherence
- Text messaging