Stories about: medication adherence

Giving young organ transplant recipients a mobile reminder that might save their lives

Flow chart showing how the medication adherence app interacts with patients and a near-field-communication-enabled pillboxIn the U.S., more than 1,700 children receive organ transplants each year. Following transplantation, they must take immunosuppressants and steroids to protect their transplanted organ from being attacked by their own immune system.

But transplant teams know that kids are 60 percent more likely than adults to struggle with keeping a strict medication schedule. That puts the longevity of donated organs — and the lives of organ recipients — at unnecessary risk.

This challenge inspired a team of pediatric transplant experts at the Boston Children’s Hospital to develop a mobile application for smartphones that could serve as a portable reminder and a resource to support medication adherence.

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More than half of type 2 diabetes patients may not take their medication as prescribed

Image of medications: A new study found that many people with diabetes are not taking their medication as prescribedNew research reveals why treatment might appear to fail to control glucose levels in many people with Type 2 diabetes: not taking their medication as prescribed.

“When patients have poor glycemic control, their physicians may assume that there was a medication failure when they were, in fact, not filling their prescriptions,” says Ken Mandl, MD, MPH, of Boston Children’s Hospital, the senior author of a new report in Diabetes Care.

The study raises the question of whether the same might be true for patients with other conditions.

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Could more time online improve teens’ health? For diabetes, possibly

Teens with type 1 diabetes can download their blood glucose data and attend "virtual clinics" from home.
Most adolescents fight for the freedom to manage their own lives, especially when it comes to friends, curfews and hobbies. That excitement conspicuously slips away when they’re faced with managing something less glamorous—like diabetes.

Since diabetes is a chronic illness with potentially serious risks, it requires continuous management. But adolescents aren’t exactly lining up around the block for extra medical visits.

“Some adolescents forget to do things like take insulin or check their blood glucose level, and they could benefit from more frequent check-ins with their diabetes team,” says Erinn Rhodes, MD, MPH, director of the Type 2 Diabetes Program and Inpatient Diabetes Program at Boston Children’s Hospital. “But that’s not easy, especially if time is limited or if transportation is a challenge.”

So Rhodes has designed a study for adolescents 13 to 17 years old, to see if “televisits”—video conferences between teens and their diabetes care providers—can improve their diabetes while encouraging better self-management.

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GeckoCap: How industry networking can help a start-up

(seeking thomas/Flickr)

Yechiel Engelhard, MD, MBA, is founder and CEO of Gecko Health Innovations, a health care mobile technology company that recently unveiled the GeckoCap, a smart button for inhalers that allows families and doctors to monitor a child’s asthma.

Asthma affects nearly one in 10 children and is the cause of more than 700,000 emergency department visits and 14 million missed school days each year. A big concern is that children often don’t realize the importance of their asthma inhalers and don’t use them properly. That’s why we saw the need to make asthma easy to understand and inhalers fun for children to use.

The inhaler lets parents know when their child uses it or when medication is running low.

Our team came up with the concept of a “smart” cap that would fit onto an asthma inhaler and turn medication adherence into a game. The cap would send notifications to parents and give them a dashboard on their smartphone, showing them when inhalers are used improperly and helping them identify troublesome patterns. The cap would also generate reports for doctors, showing medication usage and helping them to educate parents about the correlation between medications, adherence and asthma triggers.

We moved forward to make this cap a reality, but quickly realized that like many start-ups we needed a strategic partner for the next development phase.

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