The Arcady Group founder, Bruce Thomas, led the Stop TB Partnership’s Focus Group Workshop On Digital Adherence Technologies. At this meeting, innovators such as Everwell Health (99DOTS), Wisepill Technologies (evriMED medication monitor), Keheala (SMS-based behavioral counseling) and SureAdhere Mobile Technology (V-DOT) were connected with representatives of key NGO implementers and country programs (including Zimbabwe, Philippines, Moldova, and South Africa) to discuss opportunities for experimentation and uptake of digital adherence technologies through TB REACH Wave 6 grants. Bruce and Ram Subbaraman shared new evidence and insights about the importance of treatment adherence to avoid TB relapse. Download our presentation slides here.
The Arcady Group’s work is collaborative in nature. We know that radical change in global health only comes from multiple stakeholder groups coming together with a shared vision and commitment to action.
The Stop TB Partnership recently published a news article on their site entitled, “Stop TB Partnership’s TB REACH initiative funds innovation and fosters grantee-grantee collaboration.” In the article, they highlight Scientific Animations without Borders (SAWBO) and Stony Brook University’s Global Health Institute as organizations working to diagnose, educate and treat tuberculosis. The two groups recognized synergies in their projects and have been sharing expertise and resources to advance their missions.
The Arcady Group, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, arranged for evriMED medication event monitors to be used as part of the Stony Brook project. The technology is helping to connect individuals with TB in remote Madagascar to central laboratories by collecting data on medication adherence and enabling dose-history driven interventions and differentiated care.
We are pleased to announce the publication of “Usability of a Medication Event Reminder Monitor System (MERM) by Providers and Patients to Improve Adherence in the Management of Tuberculosis” in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. This contributes to the growing body of evidence supporting scale up on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded, Wisepill Technologies-developed evriMED digital medication monitor. The newly published manuscript summarizes the approach and results of a formal usability evaluation that was conducted by the China CDC and represents a best practice in implementation science regarding adherence technologies. The evaluation sought to understand MERM user performance, satisfaction, and acceptability to both TB patients and TB providers in a rural setting in China.
“The patients themselves reported that the MERM was easy to use and improved their adherence and their experience of taking their medications, thereby enhancing their quality of life and that of their families. The medical staff also reported that it reduced the workload and increased their job satisfaction.”
Additional studies are underway in China evaluating the impact of these adherence technologies on patient adherence (including persistence) and evaluating whether and to what extent improving adherence is related to better health outcomes for patients.
We are committed to making the most current TB medication adherence resources readily available for stakeholders in Global Health! Our partner, Ramnath Subbaraman, recently co-authored a chapter in the third edition of GP Clinics “Let’s Talk TB,” a textbook supplement for general practitioners in India.
The chapter discusses monitoring technologies, such as cell phone-based strategies and electronic pillboxes, as tools that can facilitate identification of patient medication non-adherence.
Once identified, the authors stress the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to improving TB medication adherence. More specifically, they suggest a four-pronged approach that includes tackling the clinical and social determinants of non-adherence: drug toxicities, nutrition, comorbidities and psychosocial barriers.
To download the article or read the abstract visit our Global Access Resources page.
Several significant and positive changes with respect to adherence, adherence interventions, adherence technologies, and medication monitors in particular were included in the newly released WHO 2017 Update on Guidelines for DS-TB Treatment. These guidelines make several important points about the importance of TB treatment adherence, about the impact of various adherence interventions, and about the promising role of digital technologies in achieving improved treatment outcomes and reduced disease morbidity. Importantly, the guidelines contain the first-ever WHO evidence-based recommendations on the use of, among other approaches, digital medication monitors to help patients adhere to TB medication and deliver TB care. These guidelines and new recommendations represent a significant and positive step forward with respect to adherence interventions generally — acknowledging that some form of adherence intervention is, in essence, required in order to ensure good TB treatment outcomes. In addition, these guidelines make clear that that digital medication monitors such as the evriMED devices (www.wisepill.com) developed with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have been “approved for use” pursuant to these new guidelines.
Bruce was also recently named contributor in an abstract re 99DOTS for 2015 Union Lung Conference. The abstract discusses how 99DOTS empowers patients, providers, and treatment programs, supporting health system efficacy and efficiency. Adherent patients can take independent custody of their drugs and confirm consumption without physical observation, which simultaneously reduces the burden on providers. Program managers gain real-time information on adherence, enabling more customized and more efficient patient supervision and support. 99DOTS may be especially applicable as India switches from thrice-weekly to daily regimens, as it enables daily monitoring without daily observation.
Bruce has co-authored a manuscript (manuscript ID: ERJ-00424-2016) entitled “Digital health for the End TB Strategy: developing priority products and making them work” which has just been published in the July issue of European Respiratory Journal, and can be viewed online at: http://erj.ersjournals.com/lookup/doi/10.1183/13993003.00424-2016.
The paper outlines the approaches taken by the WHO Global Task Force on Digital Health for TB to advocate and support the development of digital health innovations in global efforts to improve TB care and prevention. The article also includes target product profiles, as developed by early 2016, defining nine priority digital health concepts and products that are strategically positioned to enhance TB action at the country level.