Researchers at the University of California at San Diego are testing out how well smartphone-enabled video recordings of medication intake helps tuberculosis (TB) patients living in San Diego and nearby Tijuana, Mexico, according to a post from The California Health Report.
Last year the researchers equipped 51 TB patients — 43 in San Diego and eight in Tijuana — with smartphones already loaded with a “streamlined” video app that can send video messages securely. The patients only have to press a few buttons to record a video of themselves taking their TB pills at designated times, physicians receive the messages and can remotely view and track medication adherence. The researchers said that it is not uncommon for TB treatment to last an extra month or two because if a patient is not seen taking their medication, then another dose is added to the end of the regimen.
The researchers hope that this process will prove better — more convenient — for the patient and reduce costs for the healthcare system. The video recordings could also help patients complete treatment sooner, decrease the chances for treatment failure as well as the chances that the patient develops a drug resistance.
The researchers also noted the limitations of the program. Patients receiving medication injections for TB treatment will still likely need assistance from a nurse. Harsh side effects from the medications also won’t be adequately addressed through asynchronous video messages. Finally, some patients and providers will prefer live interactions whether in-person or remotely.