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Apple’s Medication Feature is a Step in the Right Direction

Apple’s medicine tracking function for iPhone and Apple’s Watch, which was revealed as part of watchOS 9 at WWDC 2022 this week, isn’t groundbreaking. There are already a slew of applications available that notify users when it’s time to take their meds.  However, getting individuals to take their prescriptions regularly is a big challenge in healthcare, with over half of those prescribed medications for chronic diseases failing to do so.

Patients grow sicker when they don’t take their medications properly, non-adherence costs the healthcare system hundreds of billions of dollars each year. Even if the tool doesn’t meet all of the experts’ criteria for the ideal medication app, the presence of a tech giant like Apple’s in the mix might be beneficial.

The program allows users to enter a list of their prescriptions and create a reminder schedule for each one. People receive an alert on their iPhone or Apple’s Watch when it’s time to take a medication. Then they can report the dose by clicking “taken” or “skipped.” Over time, the Health app will measure how frequently a user takes their medications.

According to studies, these sorts of nudges can aid enhance drug adherence. According to Mary de Vera, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia who researches medication adherence, “it’s useful for the subgroup of patients when forgetting to take a pill is the major reason they’re not complying to a treatment plan.” However, it is less useful for other groups: a smartphone warning will not address the problem if someone refuses to take medication because they don’t comprehend why it is required.

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