Here's how smartphones can save 125,000 US lives each year

Not taking your medicine can have human and financial consequences

Credit: MyTherapy

Only now available in the US market, the free MyTherapy app is a medication reminder app with a bunch of extra features to recommend it.

What does it do?

The MyTherapy team spent three years building their app, which became Germany’s leading app for medication management. The solution is developed in cooperation with patients and doctors at two of Europe’s biggest hospitals: the University Hospitals Charité in Berlin and Klinikum rechts der Isar in Munich.

The free app (available for iOS and Android) offers a combined suite of tools:

  • Medication reminders,
  • Measurement and symptoms trackers,
  • Peer group sharing and networking tool
  • A built in health journal capable of generating PDF reports you can share with your doctor or another medical professional.

It is not the only medication reminder app you’ll come across, but its scientific peer-reviewed development and wide selection of tracking and sharing tools make it noteworthy. The science behind the solution makes it a great example of how connected intelligence can positively improve lives.

Why does it matter?

We’re in an age in which pharmaceutical companies seem able to charge whatever they want for the essential medicines people need. Despite the cost of such care, nonadherence to therapy is thought to account for up to 50 percent of treatment failures, killing approximately 125,000 people in the US prematurely each year.

MyTherapy founder, Sebastian Gaede, told AppleHolic: “Taking medication as prescribed sounds easy, but it often it is not. The app makes it easy to take your meds without thinking of them all the time.”

The scale of this problem is not diminishing. An astonishing 50 percent of the US population already depends on some form of medication – but around half of all the medication being prescribed isn’t being taken. This adds significant financial costs to the human consequences of failing to take prescribed medicine. “Estimates of hospitalization costs due to medication nonadherence are as high as $13.35 billion annually in the US alone,” says NCBI.

There are many reasons why people don’t properly complete their treatment. A smartphone app can’t solve all of them, but can mitigate many of them. Some conditions are themselves contributors to medication non-adherence, it’s not as if patients deliberately choose to undermine their care. (There’s a good report exploring some of the many challenges here).

Doctor everywhere

Access to medical care is a huge problem, but making the best use of that care once you do access it is another. The doctor/patient relationship is strange – doctors need to figure out a patient’s symptoms to figure out what is wrong with them, but patients in many cases lack the kind of symptomatic rigor or, indeed, the vocabulary required to self-describe symptoms accurately.

That’s where data such as that gathered by Apple’s Health app, some third party fitness apps and MyTherapy can help. “We believe that healthcare professionals are key for understanding patients’ self-tracked data,” explains Gaede. “We sat down with doctors, pharmacists and nurses to make sure our tools add value to the patient-provider conversation.”

The key tool here is the capacity to print PDF reports detailing patient data; it is also the free online MyTherapy Professional dashboard the company makes available to providers.


The value of these tools has already been tested among transplant patients at Charité Berlin. Professor Klemens Budde, the hospital’s Head of the Department of Medicine, Nephrology, called the app: “a vital component for adherence among our transplant patients.”

MyTherapy also sets itself apart from some other medication reminder tools because it has engaged in scientific studiers to examine the effectiveness of its solution.

“The findings of this study indicate that especially medication adherence and nutrition can be improved by using a smartphone application for self- monitoring. The medication adherence could be improved from 6.8 to 7.3 points on a medication adherence scale. Furthermore, after the study period of four weeks, the participants significantly increased their fruit and fish intake,” the research paper explains.

These results reflect those identified by another player in this space, Medisafe, which also found significant improvements in medication adherence using its solutions.

Looking ahead

As platforms become more connected and as solutions like differential privacy evolve, you can look forward to significant improvements in health care, analysis and disease prevention and control. This is, of course, the positive impact of these technologies, which have implications so profound that data security and individual privacy must absolutely be baked inside at an OS level.

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