AI-based smartphone app achieves full adherence in study

Digital technology which helps patient adhere to their medication is a burgeoning field, and could help significantly improve outcomes from existing drugs.

The appeal of any technology which can do this is enormous for overstretched health systems – but no technology platform has yet gained critical mass.

AiCure is among the stronger start-up contenders in the field, thanks to its artificial intelligence smartphone app.

The company has just announced that the app led to 100% of trial participants sticking to their medication regimen in a small study.

Unlike other digital medication adherence solutions, AiCure goes a step further than simply reminding people to take their meds, adding to the process an AI capable of analysing live footage from a smartphone camera.

Users first identify themselves through their smartphone camera before holding up their pill to let the app confirm the correct medication is being taken. The user is then filmed placing the pill on their tongue and swallowing it.

The app can also be configured remotely by doctors. Reminders to take medications, dosing amounts and supplementary information such as ‘eat with food’ can be plugged in by doctors to help better inform their patients.

Doctors can then review their patient’s adherence in real-time and intervene where necessary.

The 12-week study involved a small group of 28 ischaemic stroke survivors randomly assigned to an AiCure group or a ‘treatment as usual’ group. Medication adherence was confirmed through blood tests at the end of the study.

All of those in the AiCure group stuck to their anticoagulant treatment regimens, in contrast to only 50% of those in the control group.

“Many patients are unable to self-manage and are at increased risk of stroke and bleeding,” said Laura Shafner, study co-author and chief strategy officer at AiCure. “The use of technology and artificial intelligence has the potential to significantly improve health outcomes and reduce costs in clinical care.”

In addition to better adherence, the study found that the app was easy to use regardless of age (the study’s average participant age was 57) or smartphone expertise – both common barriers for many new smartphone-based solutions.

In stroke specifically, regular anticoagulant medication dramatically reduces the chances of a second stroke.

“In the absence of routine laboratory monitoring, artificial intelligence has the potential to automate a critical component of care — adherence monitoring — and provide continuity of care between visits to ensure patients persist with their therapy and get full therapeutic benefit,” said Daniel Labovitz, lead author and Director of the Stern Stroke Center at Montefiore Medical Center.

AiCure has the support of one very well respected organisation – trials for the app are being funded by the National Institutes of Health. Studies are currently underway in opioid replacement therapy, tuberculosis and pre-exposure prophylaxis settings.

The app has already shown promise in schizophrenia, CNS disorders and tuberculosis indications.

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