Smartphones May Help Teens Take Their Meds

Kidney treatment for young patients may improve with methods that help them stick to their medication schedules

(RxWiki News) For busy teens who have a chronic disease and require regular medication, remembering to take that medication can be a challenge. But smartphones may help teens keep track of their medication schedule.

New research found that smartphones may help young adults with kidney disease take their medicines as directed.

Oleh M. Akchurin, MD, with Weill Cornell College of Medicine in New York City, served as lead author of this study.

Dr. Akchurin and colleagues surveyed 70 young people at an urban pediatric kidney clinic to find out whether they were using cellphones to help them keep up with their medication schedule.

They found that more than three-quarters were using traditional techniques, such as filling pillboxes and incorporating medications into their daily routine. The vast majority (93 percent) had smartphones, and half of those were using them to provide some type of reminder to take their medicine. Some phone apps may send a message to the patient when it is time to take medication.

About 30 percent of the teens said they used their cellphones to maintain their medication list or schedule. Only 29 percent were aware of medical mobile apps that could help them stick to their program.

“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,” the authors wrote.

Dr. Akchurin and team also noted that boys were more likely than girls to use cellphones as a reminder to take their medication (71 percent vs. 17 percent). The proportion of patients who reported that they strictly adhered their medication regimen was higher among those who used cellphone reminders than those who did not.

Another new study found that a service dedicated to young adults with kidney transplants may help them keep up with medications and provide support needed for better health outcomes.

This research was conducted by Jeroen Bastiaan van der Net, MD, and Paul N. Harden, FRCP, both with Oxford University Hospital in the UK.

They followed 93 kidney transplant patients. The patients were between 16 and 30 years old.

Patients who participated in a dedicated Young Adult Service (YAS) were four times less likely to lose function of their donated organ than young adult patients who were not involved in this service. A YAS is a group dedicated to improving teen health and providing a supportive environment for young people.

Successful YAS organizations provide a dedicated team staffed by a doctor, nurse practitioner and youth worker. They also offer young people the opportunity to interact with others their age through social activities like bowling.

The Oxford researchers concluded that these organizations were useful tools for improving patient outcomes and reducing health care costs.

The studies were presented Nov. 14 at the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) Kidney Week 2014 in Philadelphia. Research presented at conferences may not have been peer-reviewed.

Conflict of interest information is available online at the ASN website. The authors disclosed no funding sources.

Review Date: 
November 14, 2014