Health-related Apps for Patients and the Pharmacists Caring for Them

Health-related Apps for Patients and the Pharmacists Caring for Them

Pharmacists manage technology that assists with medication preparation, distribution and dispensing as well as clinical decision support. There is increasingly available technology for patients ti help them manage their disease states, stay healthy, change lifestyles, and/or adhere to their medication. Previously, adherence reminders were accomplished through pharmacy-sponsored automated, telephone reminders, then text messaging, tailored text messaging, then apps on smart phone devices.

Ali et al developed a tool to discern the quality of medication adherence apps on iOS and Android phones.1 A Medication Adherence App Quality assessment tool (MedAd-AppQ) was developed, and two evaluators independently assessed apps that fulfilled the following criteria: availability in English, had at least a medication reminder feature, non-specific to certain disease conditions (generic apps), free of technical malfunctions, and availability on both the iPhone Operating System (iOS) and Android platforms. The MedAd-AppQ has 24 items allowing an app to be scored up to 43 total points, categorized under three sections: content reliability (11 points), feature usefulness (29 points), and feature convenience (3 points). The researchers’ testing of the MedAd-AppQ instrument itself demonstrated it to have inter-rater correlation (ie, that different raters would come up with a similar score for an app being evaluated). Based on their analysis, of 52 apps (27 iOS and 25 Android), quality scores ranged between 7/43 (16.3%) and 28/43 (65.1%). There was no significant difference between the quality scores of the Android and iOS versions. None of the apps had features for self-management of side effects. Only two apps in each platform provided disease-related and/or medication information. The research concluded that clinicians can use the tool in helping patients assess and select apps; however, many of the apps tested were lacking features that could help patients if they were more user-friendly and housed information beyond adherence reminders and rudimentary dosing.

Pharmacists can help patients and really engender loyalty by embracing modern technology and helping them manage their disease state using something (apps) that they probably want to use. Pharmacy managers can consider signage or other advertising that avail customers of such services as assistance with mobile technology to manage their disease state.

Additional information about Managing Medication Use Process Supporting Technologies and Automation  can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e. If you or your institution subscribes to AccessPharmacy, use or create your MyAccess Profile to sign-in to Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e. If your institution does not provide access, ask your medical librarian about subscribing.

1Ali EE, Sin Tao AK, Lin Goh SX, et al. MedAd-AppQ: A quality assessment tool for medication adherence apps on iOS and Android platforms. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2018;14:1125-1133.


Go to the profile of Shane Desselle
6 months ago

Have your patients been using health apps effectively?