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Medical Adherence Unglamorous but an mHealth Killer App in Developed and Emerging Markets



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Report Summary:

The failure of patients to adhere to prescribed treatment plans can have serious consequences not simply for the patient, but for the health care system and the entire community. A widely quoted study by the New England Healthcare Institute (NEHI) puts the total cost of non-adherence in the US at $290 billion a year. In the case of diseases like tuberculosis, failure to complete a course of treatment not only risks spreading the disease in the community but also contributes to the development of drug-resistant strains of the disease agent. A consensus is growing that mobile phone-based patient reminder systems can be an effective way of increasing patient adherence. Many obstacles are in the way of broader deployment of mobile reminder systems, including privacy concerns, coordination among multiple different interested parties, and, in developing countries, network availability and reliability. Nevertheless, we expect reminder systems to play an increasingly important role in treatment in both developed and emerging markets.

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