Geisinger Health, Merck to Develop Cloud-Based Medication-Adherence Apps

Pennsylvania's Geisinger Health is collaborating with pharmaceutical vendor Merck to develop Web-based software to improve patients' compliance with medication schedules.

Geisinger Health System, which runs care facilities for 2.6 million residents in 44 counties in Pennsylvania, is working with drug manufacturer Merck to develop cloud-based applications for medication adherence.

Merck offers over-the-counter medications such as Claritin and Tinactin as well as prescription-products like the Nasonex nasal spray and Singulair asthma medication. The company operates under the name MSD outside the United States and Canada.

Geisinger and Merck announced their collaboration on June 18.

Geisinger comprises five hospitals and 37 community practice cities. It also offers health plans and wellness programs.

"Our collaboration with Merck will allow both organizations to leverage our individual expertise and joint resources to improve patient engagement, including finding new interventions to increase the likelihood that patients will adhere to their treatment plans," Dr. Glenn Steele Jr., president and CEO of Geisinger, said in a statement.

Geisinger will integrate the new tools developed with Merck in its system-wide electronic health record (EHR) application.

Merck and Geisinger will develop a Web application to allow doctors to assess when patients are at risk for cardiometabolic syndrome, in which several risk factors together make a patient susceptible to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The Web application will provide access to care-management protocols based on risk factors for cardiometabolic syndrome as well as expert recommendations and patient-entered data and preferences, Dr. Thomas Graf, chairman of community practice at Geisinger Health, told eWEEK in an email.

Enhanced visual models will be able to increase communication between doctors and patients, according to Graf.

In addition to the cloud application for cardiometabolic syndrome, Geisinger and Merck will develop other care-management applications, which Geisinger will test in its health system.

Geisinger will use a "rapid cycle review process" to test the new applications. The health system will rely on its long-term relationships with families of patients along with its EHR platform during testing, Geisinger reported.

"A rapid learning process will be used to integrate, evaluate and improve the performance of each solution in primary care clinical settings," Steele said.

"As an integrated health services organization, Geisinger has the ability to test the tools using a rapid cycle process in different clinical care settings," added Graf.

During the collaboration, Merck will draw on its expertise in scientific research that studies the drivers of non-adherence to medication schedules.

"We will closely monitor patient acceptance, treatment adherence and other metrics to determine which tools and solutions have the ability to improve patient care and are ready to be deployed on a broader scale," said Steele.

The user-friendly nature of a Web-based tool will lead patients to manage their conditions more effectively, according to Dr. Sethu Reddy, head of U.S. medical affairs at Merck. It could motivate patients to stay connected with doctors outside the hospital or doctor's office, he suggested.

The app for cardiometabolic patients will allow patients to increase their medication adherence rate by providing real-time patient data, including status on adherence, patient preference and any barriers that arise, said Reddy.

"[It will] allow health care professionals to have more meaningful discussions with patients about the barriers to adherence and appropriate interventions to help patients adhere to treatment plans," said Reddy.

Geisinger will first test the joint applications in a small number of sites for usability and efficiency, and then deploy it across the health system's Community Practice Service line of 200 local providers in Pennsylvania.