The Outpatient Lipid Department and Geriatrics Research Group at Charité – Universitätsmediz in Berlin, Germany, has published the results of its new study that evaluated the effects of a long-term mHealth-based self-monitoring intervention in patients with lipid metabolism disorders.

The study was based on smartpatient’s medication management app, MyTherapy, which translates both simple and complex therapies into a daily to-do list, therefore making it easier for patients to adhere to their medication.

While the focus of the study was to assess the usage of MyTherapy and its impact on people with lipid metabolism disorders, the broader aim of the study was to determine the efficacy of mHealth apps, specifically whether medication adherence apps can be beneficial for non-adherent patients. To date there have hardly been any studies investigating the effect on treatment adherence.

Lipid metabolism disorders are characterised by raised levels of lipoproteins, causing changes in the levels of blood lipids, such as cholesterol, triglycerides or phospholipids. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), almost 40% of the adult population worldwide were affected by raised total cholesterol levels in 2008. And in South Africa, almost 50% of patients do not reach their healthy low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, therefore putting them at increased risk of developing coronary heart disease.

It’s also been proven that non-adherence to medication such as statins or high blood pressure tablets increases the risk of cardiovascular events, yet patients still fail to take their medication responsibly and as prescribed.

As part of the recent study, 100 participants were recruited from the Outpatient Lipid Department at Charité. Patients were required to be at least 18 years old, be a patient of the Outpatient Lipid Department at Charité, and be in possession of a smartphone. The participants took an average of 4.3 drugs per day and 89% used their smartphones frequently. The average age of the participants was 52.6 years, with 61% above the age of 50.

Participants received material about MyTherapy and were then asked to download and use the app for a period of 12 months. During that time participants also received multiple questionnaires, including the 8-item Morisky Medication Adherence Scale which is widely used to assess patient medication adherence in clinical research and medical practice.

During the study enrolment, there was a 100% response rate on site. At the end of the 12 month period, there was a 63% response rate (via mail and email).

At the end of the study, the share of highly adherent patients in the user group increased significantly from 16.2% to 29.7% after the 12-month period. Participants in this user group also stated that their physical activity improved due to the reminder function of the app. This is important because the treatment of lipid metabolism includes both medication and lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise.

Participants also rated the different functions of the app and the overall structure. The daily To-Do-List within the app and the Therapy Plan were rated best. The structure of the app and the health report, which is generated monthly from information the user logs in the app, were also rated positively.

“As the study demonstrated, the MyTherapy app showed a positive trend regarding the subjective effects of both physical activity and medication adherence. These effects on activity and medication adherence were also observed in previous studies involving the MyTherapy app and older patients with type 2 diabetes,” said smartpatient Co-founder, Sebastian Gaede.

“One of the benefits of using MyTherapy in the context of trials is that the app can also be used post-launch, thereby allowing industry partners to provide a consistent level of real-world support during product development and actual distribution. Further, it is evident from this study that people are willing to take their health into their own hands and improve their health outcomes with smartphone apps,” concluded Gaede.

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