- Geisinger and Merck have joined forces to create new patient- and caregiver-facing apps to support chronic disease management.
The two patient engagement apps will help patients manage the logistics of their care, such as scheduling and planning aspects of complex treatment or organizing their medications. These actions should improve medication adherence and care coordination, the two organizations said.
The Family Caregiver Application will allow patients and caregivers to manage their calendar of various health-related tasks, such as appointments or medication schedules. The app will also allow for two-way communication between providers and patients or caregivers.
Specifically, the app will enable patients to view both their medical and personal appointments to coordinate care, offer a patient-managed medication scheduler, allow patients to express their personal preferences or values to inform health decisions, and display information about care team members.
The tool will also feature a “journal-like” function that lets the patient write notes about their own care.
The Family Caregiver Application, which was designed in intensive cancer care departments, will ideally drive a more personalized healthcare approach, according to Rajiv Panikkar, MD, a chair of the Geisinger Cancer Institute.
“The Family Caregiver Application enables our team to create a more personalized experience with each patient during a very difficult time,” Panikkar said in a statement. “With this application, we are able to engage with family caregivers on a deeper level by planning treatment appointments around important personal upcoming events and answer medical questions that the patient or caregiver may otherwise forget to ask during a scheduled appointment.”
The second app, MedTrue, is specifically targeted at driving medication adherence. Medication adherence is a significant issue in chronic disease management. Patients with low medication adherence run the risk of exacerbating their conditions and requiring a costly healthcare intervention.
The MedTrue app will use different medication data sources to create a medication list verified by both the patient and the provider. The app will feature medication fill data that is agnostic to provider type, an interface for patient-reported medication data, and an interface for the medical team to report on patient medication adherence and changes in medication.
This app is a step toward improved patient safety, according to Geisinger vice president of Enterprise Pharmacy and chief pharmacy officer Mike Evans.
“We know from prior work that about 70% of our medication lists are inaccurate, and these inaccuracies can lead to medical errors,” Evans explained. “The MedTrue application provides an interface that seeks to clean up medication lists, so patients and providers can be on the same page regarding medication use and better care decisions can be made.”
The applications will leverage SMART on FHIR technology. Use of the open, standards-based platform will allow all patients and providers to adopt the apps, regardless of device type.
These apps aim to empower patients to be stewards of their own healthcare. Chronic disease management is a dynamic and involved endeavor that requires patients to be knowledgeable about and involved in their own care. Apps that facilitate care management and coordination is one step forward in that process, according to Geisinger executive vice president and chief scientific officer David H. Ledbetter, PhD.
“Our collaboration with Merck has allowed both of our organizations to leverage our individual strengths, expertise, and resources to better enable a shared decision-making process through healthcare technology,” Ledbetter stated. “Providing these tools for patients and family caregivers — tested within our own system — enables patients to be more active in healthcare decisions and could increase the likelihood that patients will adhere to their treatment plans and lead healthier lives.”
Lisa French, associate vice president of strategy and commercial model innovation in Merck’s US market, echoed those sentiments, saying health system collaboration has been essential to developing the apps.
“Our experience in collaborating with Geisinger, a progressive, integrated delivery system, has given us many insights on the development and testing of solutions to improve patient care and we are confident these applications can be successful with other health systems,” French said. “We are excited to begin the next phase of our work together, as we actively explore the expanded use and commercialization of these applications with other stakeholders in the healthcare system.”