A tablet application designed to help elderly patients remember when to take their daily doses of medicine proved to be highly beneficial and was successfully adopted by the patients tested, according to a paper published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.
The study, which involved 99 elderly Spanish patients (48 in the control group and 51 in the experimental group), indicated the app, called ALICE, resulted in fewer missed doses of medication and helped to significantly reduce medication errors in patients with an initially higher rate of errors.
Patients with no experience with information and communication technologies reported better adherence, fewer missed doses and fewer medication errors.
The mean satisfaction score for ALICE was 8.5 out of 10, and in all, 45 of 51 patients (88 percent) felt that ALICE improved their independence in managing their medications, suggesting tablet applications can be highly beneficial to elderly patients living on their own.
ALICE was designed for Google Android and Apple iOS devices to allow for the personalization of prescriptions and medical advice, showing images of each of the medications (the packaging and the medication itself) together with alerts and multiple reminders for each alert.
"The ALICE app improves adherence, helps reduce rates of forgetting and of medication errors, and increases perceived independence in managing medication," the report said. "Elderly patients with no previous experience with information and communication technologies are capable of effectively using an app designed to help them take their medicine more safely."
The study said ALICE and similar apps have a broad potential not only for patients, but also for professionals because they can provide useful information about how patients adapt the therapeutic regimen to their life style.
In addition, these apps can be adapted to the habits and life style of patients to make it simpler for them to take their medication because it is known that these factors are the main cause of nonadherence.
The paper suggested further studies on virtual pillboxes for tablets and smartphones could explore whether adherence can be improved by personalization of treatment regimens, and said future research should assess to what extent these tools are useful for older individuals living alone, a situation that is expected to be the reality for a growing number of patients in the near future.
However, some results also indicated there is more work to be done concerning interaction with tablets and the applications they come with, as more than half of the patients from the experimental group (59 percent) required individual support once they joined the study to solve problems related to the use of ALICE.
Most of these (31 percent) concerned charging the battery and restarting the system. Overall, more than half of the patients in the experimental group (59 percent) reported that the ALICE app improved their medication use.