Younger patients being treated for a chronic disease often neglect prescribed medication due to confusion or a personal choice to stop medication they deem unnecessary. A pair of studies presented at ASN Kidney Week 2014 Nov. 11-16 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia have revealed that smartphones and being involved in a service can ensure that teens and young adults adhere to a vital medication regimen.

First Study

"This study demonstrates that a number of inner city teenagers with kidney disorders are utilizing their cell phones for the management of medication administration even in the absence of organized program promoting such use," Dr. Oleh Akchurin, from the Weill Cornell College of Medicine, said in a statement.

Akchurin and his colleagues surveyed patients at a pediatric kidney clinic to examine how using a smartphone helped young patients take their medication. Around 93 percent of teenage patients used their smartphone, 50 percent of which said they used the device as a reminder for taking their medications. However, only 29 percent were aware of medical-related apps. Teens who used their smartphone as a medication reminder had a higher prevalence of 100 percent self-reported adherence.

"Further research efforts are required to fully describe the contemporary pattern of smartphone-based technology use in medication adherence in this population in order to allow health care providers a meaningful way to incorporate these existing practices into daily clinical activity," Akchurin added.

Second Study

Researchers from Oxford University Hospital in the UK gathered data on kidney transplant recipients between the age of 17 and 30. Patients involved in a Young Adult Service were four times less likely to suffer loss of kidney function following their transplant compared to those not involved in service. Young Adults Services help with keeping young patients connected to physicians, nurses, youth workers, and peer interactions.

"Young adult patients are at a critical point in their educational, psychological, and professional development that will shape their future life. Increasing the survival of their transplants will lead to higher levels of education and employment rates, which will be financially beneficial to society," said Dr. Paul Harden.

Related Study

A similar study conducted at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that the size and shape of pills may play a role in the patient’s adherence to his medication regimen. After examining the medical insurance records of 10,000 discharged heart attack patients between 2006 and 2011, researchers found that 34 percent of patients failed to refill their prescriptions or discontinued use if the pill changed color and 66 percent if it changed shape.

Source: Akchurin O, et al. Utilization of Smart Phones and Medication Adherence in Adolescents with Kidney Disorders. ASN Kidney Week. 2014.

Source: Bastiaan J, Harden P, et al. Reduced Rejection Rates and Improved Graft Survival with a Dedicated Young Adult Service. ASN Kidney Week. 2014.