Digital technology is revolutionizing the way we manage our medication and our health. The new generation of apps, gadgets, wearables and software are providing doctors with more regular, efficient feedback loops. They can remind patients when it’s time to take medication, send information to a doctor or inform a relative if there’s a medical problem. They can also harness the power of technology to prevent medication errors, whether they are caused by the doctor, the pharmacist or the patients themselves.
Medication errors are a completely preventable problem, however a shocking new report from the Journal of The American Medical Association revealed that more than 100,000 people in America die from bad reactions to their prescribed medication every year.health
The exact number of these deaths caused by medication errors in the UK are not known, however recent findings from a UK medical law firm show that 1 in 20 prescriptions in the UK have an error. The specialist medical negligence team reports that medical negligence claims can arise from any part of the medication process, including:
- an error in administration, such as in the writing of the prescription
- mixing the wrong strength or combination of prescription medications
- the pharmacist dispensing the incorrect prescription
- the prescription being mixed with damaged or out of date ingredients
- giving the wrong instructions on how to take the medication
Using digital innovation to avoid medication errors
There is so much potential for human error in the prescription dispensing system. A mistake could happen when the doctor is writing the prescription, or when the pharmacist is reading it. The pharmacist could get the dosage wrong, they could dispense an incorrect medication in error, or the patients themselves could make a dosage mistake.
Luckily, digital innovation is booming in the area of medical management. There are many new apps that can help manage every step in the process to prevent medication errors. Here are a few to watch:
Pillpack: a full-service, online pharmacy
Pillback is the online pharmacy app that simplifies the process of managing your medications. The app employs a team of pharmacists who work with a team of robots, in a multi-tiered quality checking system that makes sure you get the correct medications every time. Enter in your medical details, and your medication will be delivered in individualized packs, organized by the date and time of date they need to be taken. The service delivers your meds to you every two weeks, coordinating with your doctor and insurance to manage any refills you need.
UBOX: a smart pillbox
This smart little box will remind you when a dose of your medication is due, records when it is dispensed, stops you taking the wrong thing, and sends alerts in real time when they’re needed. It’s portable and flexible and it can keep your family or a doctor informed of how you’re doing by recording the medications you take. “When it’s time to take a medicine, the box will first flash, then beep, then text the user.”
Proteus Discover: a biomedical sensor
This clever little gadget is a biomedical sensor that tracks the effectiveness of your medication. You swallow the sensor and when it is paired with a patch and a smartphone, it relays the body’s physiological responses and behaviors. Proteus is a medical platform as well as a device. The platform allows products to be developed that can capture and analyze physiological and behavioral data for patient monitoring, wellness, fitness tools, clinical trials, and more.
Propeller: A digital sensor to manage your asthma
Propeller’s digital inhaler sensor tracks symptoms, triggers and medications for people with asthma and COPD. The sensor is paired with a mobile application where your data is displayed. The app tracks the amount and frequency of the medication you’re taking, as well as giving personalized feedback and education on ways to improve your asthma control of COPD status. Propeller also lets physicians monitor your symptoms and determine when you need a change in medication.
The future of medicine management is digital
At the moment adverse drug reactions one of the 6 biggest causes of death in the US. Digital technology offers a wonderful opportunity to turn these statistics around.
Luckily, the future of healthcare technology looks bright. Health startups are working on smart apps that include wearables to monitor a patient’s vital signs, apps that manage a complex regime of multiple medications and robots to double-check prescriptions. All these innovations will facilitate better care and eliminate the needless risk of human error in the medication delivery process.