Mitigating the Impact of Covid 2.0 with Medical Adherence Technology

Elisa Sung • December 5, 2022

The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have been, and continue to be, far-reaching. The mass shift to remote learning and work-from-home arrangements led to reduced in-person interactions and increased demand for virtual technologies. At the same time, gaps in healthcare access have widened due to exacerbated financial and geographical barriers. As a result, digital health technologies are emerging as a powerful player in addressing medical adherence in the Covid-19 era and beyond.

A recent HITLAB panel discussion, presented by Information Mediary Corporation (IMC), discussed electronic medical adherence technologies and the potential mitigating impact in a Covid 2.0 scenario. Health and policy experts weighed in on what has been learned since the early days of the pandemic and what lessons should be applied going forward. Panelists John Musaus, Founder & Executive Director at Adherence Measurement Institute, and Sloane Salzburg, Vice President at Horizon Government Affairs, discussed how medication adherence coupled with telehealth has addressed patient needs. The emphasis for quality data in adoption of this technology remains an important aspect toward demonstrating the financial as well as economic benefits for policy makers, providers, and health systems.

A study conducted by Horizon in partnership with Harvard in 2018 demonstrated that patients in medical synchronization programs, which utilized adherence technology with telehealth, had a 9% reduction in hospitalizations. When extrapolating these results to a larger scale, the impact translated to $42 billion saved per year. Considering the bed and staff shortages hospitals and clinics faced during the Covid-19 pandemic, telehealth and adherence technologies could alleviate preventable hospital visits, which would reduce strain on the consumption of healthcare resources. Despite the promising data, both panelists recognize that there are barriers to broad scale adoption outside of controlled situations, such as clinical trials. Widespread adoption must pass statutory muster at the local, state, and federal levels. As a result, more action may be required to increase awareness and adoption.

Panelist John Kimmet, Director of Strategic Planning at Celgene, saw promise in tech companies working with life science companies in an “ecosystem” to address adherence and protect patients from illness. In retrospect, the pandemic highlighted the importance of adherence technology by demonstrating how providers can continue to promote well-being and safety during times of inaccessibility with patients. However, privacy remains a legitimate concern.

The future of electronic medical adherence technologies in helping mitigate the impact of a Covid 2.0 requires further progress on multiple fronts before large-scale adoption. Innovators of emerging digital health technologies should consider the “how-to” for integration with already existing infrastructure. Focus on more prevalent disease states, such as diabetes, may provide a better case for larger scale adoption.