mHealth technology to help dementia patients with medicines adherence

Evaluation to begin on Biodose Connect drug delivery system for dementia patients

A new medication tool is being heralded as a ‘lifeline’ for dementia sufferers and their carers.

Biodose Connect was designed to help people with dementia independently adhere to their treatment regimen and to understand more about their medication.

A unique drug delivery system, it enables live, remote monitoring and management of patient adherence, instantly alerting the patient, carer, clinician or pharmacist if medicines are not taken as prescribed.

The live monitoring makes it possible to quickly identify potential lapses in drug treatment regimens and deploy the appropriate intervention.

“Poor medicines adherence for people experiencing dementia can lead to a range of difficulties. Patients can accidentally overdose, miss doses or discontinue treatment without any consultation with their GP, all of which can be highly detrimental to their health and wellbeing, and costly to the NHS and social care budgets,” said Professor Stephen Curran, a consultant in old age psychiatry from South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, who will be undertaking the evaluation.

Under evaluation

Quantum Pharmaceutical is planning to work alongside the South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust in Wakefield and Rowlands Pharmacy, to evaluate the effectiveness of using Biodose Connect with a tailored education programme. Rowlands Pharmacy will provide an integrated Biodose Connect dispensing service with individual tailored reviews, pharmacist advice and intervention to support patients and their carers participating in the evaluation.

“We hear a lot about the dementia ‘time bomb’ that is about to explode, but in some cases it has already gone off,” said Richard Clibbens, a nurse consultant at the trust who is involved in the evaluation.

“The needs of people experiencing dementia are placing an increasing demand on health and social care services and the lives and finances of affected individuals and their families.”

Adherence issues may lead to avoidable and costly hospital admissions or require a full community social work and financial assessment before a package of home care is implemented. Often family carers or professional carers may have to visit the home a number of times each day, purely to help someone with dementia to take their medicines as prescribed, while they remain effectively independent in other areas of their life. In a community setting Biodose Connect could significantly reduce these issues of poor adherence, preventing unnecessary, distressing and costly hospital admissions, which provides better and safer outcomes for patients. This could also significantly delay the need for provision of costly home social care packages, maintaining the independence that most people with dementia prefer and reducing stress and burden for family carers.

This study will start in January with an initial recruitment of 60 patients in the first phase.

Support for carers

Quite often it is the dementia patient’s husband or wife who is their principle carer and responsible for ensuring medication is taken correctly.

Karen Winterhalter experienced first-hand the challenges this brings, when her elderly relative had to look after his wife who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

“As a family we had assumed they were coping well with the medication regimen, but when we were cleaning their house we found box after box of unused Aricept, a medicine that should have been taken to slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s,” she said.

“More alarmingly, only when his wife went into respite care did we realise she had not been receiving her other medication. In the weeks prior, her doctor had been increasing her medication as it didn’t seem to be having an effect. Unfortunately, no one checked to see if it had been given to her correctly. When she was in the care home she became extremely sedated because as soon as she was administered the correct medication the dose was much higher than she needed. She then fell, broke her arm and ended up in an acute hospital bed for several weeks.”

Having a product such as Biodose Connect would have been exceptionally helpful to us, as we or the community mental health team could have kept a closer eye on what was happening and ensured the right drugs were given at the right time.

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