November 26, 2014
Why Pharmacists Want Teens to Be on Their Smart Phones 

Philadelphia—When young patients with chronic illnesses fail to take their medications regularly, pharmacists might advise them, “There’s an app for that.”

An abstract presented at the American Society of Neurology’s Kidney Week 2014 discussed opportunities to use smart phones to help increase medication adherence among young people.

Researchers led by Frederick Kaskel, MD, PhD of Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Oleh Akchurin, MD of the Weill Cornell College of Medicine, both in New York, set out to determine how young patients currently use smart phones to help them take their medications.

A survey of patients at a pediatric kidney clinic found that the majority of the teenage respondents still used traditional techniques such as filling pillboxes and incorporating medications in their daily routines.

The researchers also discovered, however, that 93% of the surveyed teens had a smart phone in their personal possession, yet only 29% were aware of medical mobile apps to help with medication adherence. Still, 50% said they used cell phones for some kind of reminders to take medications.

About 30% said they use an electronic device to maintain their medication list or schedule. In addition, the study determined that boys were much more likely to use cell phones reminders for medications—71% to 17%.

Overall, the prevalence of 100% self-reported medication adherence was significantly higher in teens who utilized cell phones for reminders, 70% vs. 14%.

“A substantial number of teenagers with kidney disorders and transplants reported cell phone use for managing their medications; however, significant opportunity for utilizing smart phone-based technology to improve medication adherence remains,” study authors report.

"This study demonstrates that a number of inner city teenagers with kidney disorders are utilizing their cell phones for the management of medication administration even in the absence of organized program promoting such use," Akchurin added. “Further research efforts are required to fully describe the contemporary pattern of smart phone-based technology use in medication adherence in this population in order to allow health care providers a meaningful way to incorporate these existing practices into daily clinical activity.”

Noting “utilization of cell phones was associated with beneficial self-reported outcomes in this study,” the study adds that data collection and analysis on the project are ongoing.

U.S. Pharmacist Social Connect