The name of the new smartphone app is DRUM, an acronym for Daily Reports of Using Medications for HIV.The app developed by scientists in the USA, helps people infected with HIV to follow their medication schedules more strictly. It does so by tracking the medication reports of patients and reminding them daily if they miss their doses.
Adhering to Medication Schedules:
Treatments such as Antiretroviral Therapy or ART, involving giving patients a combination of drugs have been useful in managing the disease and prolonging the lives of those infected. However, strict adherence to medication schedules has been vital in such cases.
Sarahmona Przybyla, Clinical Assistant Professor of Community Health and Health Behavior from the University of Buffalo (UB), New York, USA, in a research paper published recently in AIDS Research and Treatment has observed that ‘You can live a long, healthy life with HIV, but you have to take your medicines on time.’
Forgetfulness, changes in Routine and Substance Abuse
The new app has been tested among 26 HIV patients belonging to different areas in Buffalo over two weeks. Privacy and confidentiality were protected through a system of passwords.
Participants using the new app were required to complete a daily report, inbuilt in the app, over two weeks. A reminder message was texted to users every afternoon.
The reports indicated three main reasons for non-compliance with the medication schedules:
-Forgetting to take medications
-A change in the daily routine
-The use of drugs or alcohol
The app tracks adherence to medications as well as incidents of substance abuse. In the case of substance abuse, the app requires additional details to be answered through a drop down menu.
As per lead author Przybyla ‘With this app, we can reach out to people with HIV and say, we’ve noticed you’ve been using substances and that seems to be related to the fact that you’ve missed your doses — what can we do to help you? With the app, it is like putting prevention in their pockets.’
Encouraging feedback from HIV patients
- HIV patients who used the app over the period of the study found it easy and convenient to use. This is excellent news for the success of the app as a majority of participants were using a smartphone for the first time in their lives-having never used one earlier.
- 95% of the participants completed their daily reports indicating high reporting as well as honest reporting.
- The app actually helped in cases where patients had missed out on their medicines. The text reminder prompted users to take the medications if they had forgotten.
- It was also clear that the app helps patients develop a routine or pattern.
Moving forward, scientists will be considering how the app can be used to help in user decisions pertaining to drinking. This is because some users reported that the app is helpful to them in understanding their drinking habits.