14 May 2018
Over 65s say they would find technology to help them take their medications helpful, but need the technology to be familiar, accessible and easy to use, according to research by Queen Mary University of London and University of Cambridge. People who do not use smartphones said that they’d prefer to have smartwatches than smartphones for reminders to take their pills.
Around one tenth of cardiovascular events are associated with poor medication adherence, but some patients could be helped through new technologies to aid them with tablet taking and monitor adherence.
Some technologies include apps that allow patients to receive counselling about medications and reminders to improve and monitor tablet taking. There are also interactive text message reminders for tablet taking. And Ingestible sensor systems (ISSs) are a combination of wearable and ingestible sensors working in conjunction with smartphones, PCs and tablets to detect ingested medication.
However, not much is known on whether over 65s might find it difficult to adopt these technologies, due to ethnic diversity, and age-related physical and mental impairments.
The study, published in the Journal of International Medical Research, investigated opinions about available technologies in a focus group of patients aged over 65 taking cardiovascular medications.
The over 65s in the study generally valued the opportunity to receive alerts to help with practical aspects of medicine taking, like forgetting and monitoring treatment:
People familiar with smartphones welcomed an intervention through smartphones. Some participants were not familiar with smartphones, but all used wristwatches and preferred interventions using this technology, such as smartwatches:
Other concerns included potential reduction in face-to-face communication, data security, becoming dependent on technology and worrying about the consequences of technological failures:
Lead researcher Dr Anna De Simoni from Queen Mary University of London said: “These findings have highlighted that people over 65 on cardiovascular medications are willing to consider technology to help with practical aspects of their day-to-day medicine taking, such as getting reminder alerts and monitoring doses taken, either themselves or by carers and clinicians.
“In clinical consultations about medicine taking, healthcare professionals can explore technologies familiar and easily accessible to patients as a way to ensure good adherence. To this end additionally checking on common concerns, like worries about data security, becoming dependent on technology and consequences of technological failures can be beneficial.”
The study was funded by the National Institute of Health Research and Queen Mary’s Centre for Public Engagement.