Heart patients need medication reminders? There’s an app for that

No fancy bells and whistles necessary, according to study in Heart


Do your patients with heart disease need a little help remembering to take their medications? Medication reminder apps may do the trick--and improve their adherence, say researchers published in Heart on August 27.


In the MEDication reminder APPs to improve medication adherence in Coronary Heart Disease  (MedApp-CHD) Study, 163 patients with CHD were divided into three groups, those who received usual care, those who used a basic medication reminder app, and those who used an advanced interactive, customizable app. All patients had a previous diagnosis of myocardial infarction, unstable or stable angina, coronary revascularization procedure, or at least 50% stenosis in at least one major vessel on a coronary angiogram.


Patients in the usual care group received standardized care such as lifestyle advice, referral to cardiac rehabilitation, and prescriptions for cardiovascular medications. Those in the intervention groups received instructions and help in downloading medication reminder apps to their smartphones, inputting their list of current cardiovascular medications, and setting daily reminders for taking their medications. The basic app worked as an alarm to alert patients that it was time to take their medications. The advanced app also offered a snooze option, the option to reschedule or mark the medication as “taken” or “missed,” and options to schedule refill reminders, store adherence statistics, export and share information, or send alerts to family members or others when patients missed a dose.


After 3 months, the researchers assessed the participants’ medication adherence via the 8-item Morisky Medication Adherence Scale (MMAS-8) and found that app users had higher MMAS-8 scores than patients in the usual care group. Fewer app users were categorized as “low adherence,” as well, just 18.8% compared with 29.4% in the usual care group. However, there were no significant differences between the basic app group and the advanced app group, leading the researchers to conclude that a basic app is enough to improve adherence.