CyberDoctor takes new angle on medication adherence

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 8, 2013        

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PatientPartnerA patient-facing app from CyberDoctor is taking a new approach to addressing the $290 billion a year problem of medication adherence. The app, PatientPartner, uses a choose-your-own-adventure style gamified experience to help patients think more about their adherence and what it means in the larger context of their lives.

“It’s a complete departure from adherence applications,” Akhila Satish, CEO and cofounder of CyberDoctor, told MobiHealthNews. “There are no reminders, there’s no connection to an EMR. It’s completely different and it’s really going to disrupt this category in a lot of different ways.”

The company announced a clinical trial of the app at Health 2.0. In a trial of 100 non-adherent patients with diabetes, subjects improved medication adherence 37 percent, going from 58 percent adherence before the study to 95 percent afterward. They increased diet adherence by 24 percent, exercise adherence by 14 percent, and decreased HbA1c from 10.7 to 9.7 percent, after only 12 minutes of play — with the second reading taken 3 months later.

“Non-adherence patients don’t always realize the relevance of their medicine or the consequences if they don’t take their drugs,” said Satish. “And no physician has the time to teach patients how to juggle and how to make everyday choices. And that’s what we were trying to create with PatientPartner.”

The app is available for free for iPhone and iPodTouch, but a $3.99 upgrade gives users access to additional scenarios and a training program to improve their adherence. Users can also earn a pharmacy discount card that grants up to a 45 percent discount on their prescriptions.

In the app, a patient answers a series of questions about a character’s health decisions. Then he or she answers the same questions, imagining him or herself as the decision-maker. The app returns scores for health strategy, emergency response, and health information management.

This is CyberDoctor’s first app offered directly to consumers. The company’s other apps are patient-facing, but offered only through the doctor, who can recommend them to the patient as a tool. Existing apps include SymptomScan, an assessment tool, TreatmentTracker, which helps doctors and patients manage treatment plans, and DocLogs, a blog platform for doctors.

“It was going to be a clinical tool that physicians could offer to patients,” Satish said. “But we didn’t want to wait six months to give this to patients. Once we had it, once we knew it worked, we wanted to get it out as soon as possible.”

Satish said the program was tested on diabetic patients because HbA1c is such a visible outcome measure, but the app is designed to work for all users, even those without a chronic condition.