Clinical Blog
Published: February 06, 2019

Do smartphone notifications from digital therapeutics help patients remember to take their medicine?

Smartphone notifications get a bad rap, and not without reason. If you own a smartphone and haven’t turned off notifications for your various apps, you probably recognize these types of messages.

“Jim Stangel is interested in an event happening near you.”

“NBC and 3 others are Tweeting about Justin Timberlake.”

“Thanks for riding with Ellen! Please rate your trip.”

Not all of these notifications are useful, few are necessary and many are designed for a single purpose: to get you to open the app and engage with it.

But despite their faults, notifications are designed to trigger a human response: interest, curiosity and ultimately action.

And that means they can be used for a positive purpose as well: to help patients adhere to their prescribed medication regimen via a digital medicine.

To determine exactly how smartphone notifications improve medication adherence, we partnered with the University of Colorado Health and Children’s Hospital Colorado to study 2,079 patients who manage their asthma via Propeller. With Propeller, patients have the option to receive push notifications 15 minutes after a missed or late dose, based on the medication schedule they enter. They also have the option to disable the alert to their phone.

Of the patients we studied, daily adherence was higher for patients who enabled the notification than those who disabled it (38 percent vs. 34 percent among self-enrolled patients, and 43 percent vs. 33 percent for patients enrolled with the help of a physician).

A 34 to 38 percent increase in adherence may not seem like a lot until you consider these statistics: raising adherence by five percent can slash overall costs by one percent, a massive return for healthcare organizations. This is because improving medication adherence can reduce the risk of patients having a severe asthma exacerbation and needing emergency care or hospitalization.

Propeller will continue to engage in research to examine how smartphone notifications encourage medication adherence, including why some people enable alerts and others don’t, how people respond to alerts based on different variables, and what role physicians play in helping patients adhere.

For now, it’s heartening to know that smartphone notifications can do more than just remind you that your cousin has commented on your Facebook post. They also appear to be beneficial in promoting medication adherence.

“Benefit of Smartphone Alerts to Improve Adherence to Inhaled Asthma Controllers” was presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and authored by Heather Hoch, MD, Leanne Kaye, PhD, Rahul Gondalia, MPH, Ben Theye, BS, BA, Meredith Barrett, PhD, David Van Sickle PhD, Stanley Szefler, MD and David Stempel, MD.

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From 2010 to Today: Happy Birthday, Propeller!

Today marks an incredible milestone: Propeller Health's 13th birthday. What began as a quest to solve a public health problem has turned into a global precision digital health company driving meaningful, measurable change in the industry. 

Recognizing early on that creating value for all parties in health – health systems, clinicians, payers, and pharmaceutical companies – is essential in order to drive sustainable change, we’ve spent the past 13 years pioneering innovative solutions that always keep the patient at the center. Our story is one of hard work, dedication, collaboration, and above all, a mission to uplift every person living with a chronic disease so they can breathe easier, stay healthier, and live better lives. 

Propeller was founded on the heels of a then-mysterious string of asthma attacks in Barcelona in the 1980s. It took 8 years for experts to identify soybean dust – not yet recognized as an allergen – as the trigger. One CDC disease detective envisioned a better way to monitor public health: by using technology to track medication usage and symptoms. With this mission, Propeller was born. 

Coming to AAAAI 2023: Propeller’s latest asthma research

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) has accepted five abstracts examining the latest data from Propeller Health and ResMed.

Our findings on asthma care, which include analyzing the direct and indirect cost-savings associated with a digital intervention in uncontrolled asthma, will be presented at the AAAAI Annual Meeting on February 24-27. Read brief summaries of each abstract below or click the links to view them online.

Direct and indirect cost-savings associated with a digital intervention in uncontrolled asthma: A literature-based estimate