Medication Adherence: How CleverCap Solves the Problem for Patients with Chronic Illnesses
For patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, this is a significant problem that requires intervention.
To discuss this issue, I interviewed Mr. Moses Zonana, CEO of CleverCap, a medication adherence and safety platform.
Q: Why is there a problem of poor medication adherence today?
A: There are barriers across the board. However, the major problems associated with poor medication adherence have to do with patient education. There are also concerns with side effects of the medications and pain.
Nonetheless, I think we are at the point where we’re going to see a lot of these barriers overcome because many of the issues are being addressed with technology.
Q: For patients who need to take medications to get better, why is it so difficult for them to just take the medicine?
A: There is no single cause, but the reluctant behavior can vary among groups. The concerns include:
- The lack of understanding of why it’s important to take the medication as needed;
- Having to take multiple medications;
- The complexity of the regimen of the medication;
- Lifestyles that interfere with taking the medicine;
- Forgetting to take the medication;
- Communicating with the provider; and
- The side effects that the medication might cause.
However, I think that the more interesting problem has to do with filling or refilling a prescription, which is called the medication possession ratio. Because even if a patient is filling or refilling their prescription, he or she still may not be taking it the right way and, as a result, is not getting better.
So rather than addressing why patients are not taking their medication, I think it is more important to try to understand how medication adherence can make patients better. That’s the real measure of adherence.
Q: So how does your solution, CleverCap, work? And how is it addressing the problem of medication adherence?
A: CleverCap is a device-enabled medication adherence and safety platform. Our solution replaces a standard cap with what we call the “clever cap,” which has a digital version of a patient’s label instructions embedded in a microchip in the cap. The cap provides:
- A flashing light and sound alert to remind patients when they should be taking their medications based on the protocol of a particular prescription,
- A dose-controlling capability so the patient only takes the proper dose,
- A recording capability that records every single time a pill goes out, and transmits that information into a cloud-based analytic system,
- An ability to monitor trends on a demographic basis, letting the providers know if the patient misses a dose. Subsequently proper interventions can be triggered based on the therapy or the medication under consideration.
In addition, there are alarms in the bottle that let patients know when it’s time to take their medication. The system can also send text, phone, and email reminder messages based on how the program was configured for a particular use.
Q: In the United States, ethnic minorities, especially African Americans and Hispanics are disproportionately impacted by chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension. Does CleverCap have any specific strategies to reach these demographic groups?
A: Because we mostly reach out to health systems, payers, hospital systems and pharmaceutical companies, we are indirectly reaching minorities and underserved groups serviced by the healthcare system. However, we are not specifically going to minority communities. But we probably should.
Q: How does your company work with pharmacy groups to help communities that are highly impacted by chronic illnesses?
A: Our technology is programmed and prepared at the pharmacy level, so the pharmacist remains engaged. And the pharmacist has the ability to monitor patients’ adherence behavior and their utilization pattern. As a result, the pharmacists can better coach and service their patients.
In addition, our technology is trying to remove the propensity for errors that currently occurs in the therapy management and payment systems for patients. We think that the prescription should be maintained and the integrity of it should be maintained in the hands of the pharmacist.
Q: How do you think providers could get involved in recommending products such as yours?
A: With the new accountable care organizations, providers are taking more risks and are trying to improve quality as opposed to quantity of service provided. So they are more likely to get involved with products likeCleverCap.
In fact, we’re working with some provider groups already. For example, where there is a propensity for over-dosing, like in pain medications, providers can actually make our product a part of their provider-patient contracts. Bundling with a program like ours can decrease the propensity for abuse.
Providers also have the strongest relationships with some of the pharmaceutical companies whose products could benefit the most from a program with CleverCap.
Q: Moses, please tell our audience how they may reach you, should they want to discuss your solution further.
A: We have a medication adherence research center on our website at www.clevercaprx.com. We can also be reached at 1-855-M-CLEVER.