In the United States alone, medication non-adherence costs approximately $100 billion annually. This lack of simple compliance, primarily attributed to forgetfulness, can lead to increased hospitalizations and worsening disease states. Thankfully, personal technology is now being used to help patients adhere to their medication guidelines — utilizing reminders, social support, and enhancing communication with providers. For example, there are hundreds of apps that can be downloaded onto devices (e.g. phones and tablets), all of which are capable of sending medication reminders. The goal of this website is to help both patients and providers find the most effective app and features for each individual’s needs.
About Our App Project
In just the last two years, medication adherence apps have greatly increased — going from only 160 apps available to well over 400 on the iTunes, Google Play, and Blackberry marketplaces. Today, an online search for quality apps ends in hundreds of options being displayed. This process can be frustrating, time-consuming, and discouraging for patients and providers. By identifying the right app prior to venturing into the online marketplaces, this website, a solution saving both time and money for all parties involved, will help to quickly and efficiently find the app that best fits individual needs.
During our project, we searched app descriptions found in the Android, Apple, and Blackberry marketplaces. Features of medication adherence apps were then catalogued. Relying on our pharmacy experience, we identified the features patients and providers would most likely value in a medication adherence app. With this expertise applied, we ranked the apps based on the features that were available in the online descriptions. After ranking, we tested those rated in the top 100.
We believe our rating system will enable patients and providers to quickly identify the app that will be most easily incorporated into their daily routines, and consequently, optimizing adherence.
During the first review of app marketplaces in 2012, Dr. Seth Heldenbrand searched the iTunes app store, Google Play, and BlackBerry App World for all medication adherence apps. There were 160 apps, 147 of which were unique applications. Dr. Heldenbrand then ranked these apps based on a list of researcher-recommended features. Once they were ranked, the research team tested the 10 highest scoring apps against their developers’ claims. After testing, he re-ranked the apps according to performance on developers’ claims. After this process, Dr. Heldenbrand, along with Dr. Lindsey Dayer, Paul Anderson, Dr. Paul O. Gubbins, and Dr. Brad Martin, wrote a manuscript that was later published in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association. Because this groundbreaking research was so novel, Dr. Heldenbrand and Dr. Dayer have done many interviews since their article was published.
In 2014, we knew it was time to update our app database. Dr. Heldenbrand and Dr. Dayer recruited two research assistants, Rebecca Shilling and Catie Renna, to continue the project-updating the list of all adherence apps available. After finding these apps, Rebecca and Catie ranked the apps based on an updated author recommended feature list and tested the top-scoring 100 apps on all available platforms. Once testing was complete, the apps were re-ranked according to the features that they actually had.
We have passed along this post-testing ranking to you in the form of this very website.
The website was developed in partnership with the UAMS Center for Health Literacy. The mission of the UAMS Center for Health Literacy is to improve society and population health by making health information easier to understand and use.
You can access our published papers and poster presentations here:
- 2013 Paper: Smartphone medication adherence apps: Potential benefits to patients and providers
- 2015 Poster: Navigating the Flooded Adherence App Marketplace: Rating the Quality of Medication Adherence Apps
- 2016 Paper: Assessment of medication adherence app features, functionality, and health literacy level and the creation of a searchable Web-based adherence app resource for health care professionals and patients
- 2016 Poster: There are too Many Apps for That: Development of a Website Helps Patients and Providers Find Quality Medication Adherence Applications
You can access our user-tested data here:
Research Team 2014-2015
From left to right: Lindsey Dayer, Pharm.D., BCACP; Seth Heldenbrand, Pharm.D.; Becky Shilling, Pharm.D. Candidate 2017; Brad Martin, Pharm.D., Ph.D.; Catherine Renna, Pharm.D.
Not pictured: Paul O. Gubbins, Pharm.D.