Vote us up! (Alicia Staley and me)
Click to visit our proposal on the site, register if you need to,
and use one of your votes for this awesome idea!
(Or all three of your votes. :-) It’s allowed.)
Have you ever seen the set of pills that have to be managed for a person with a slew of prescriptions? It’s nuts. What’s even more nuts is that with all we pay for healthcare and computers in this world, there’s no software anywhere that makes it easy to do the right thing. Let’s change that!
(I’m not complex at the moment (at least my prescriptions aren’t), but when I was sick I sure was. Farther down is the true story that gave me this idea.)
This is my submission for the “Blue Button CoDesign Challenge” that was sprung on us last Monday by the good folks at Health & Human Services, who are doing this radically modern thing – unusual for government, eh? They came up with a fascinating challenge and are opening it to the public, with prizes! For details you can check out the challenge site.
Here’s my proposal. Over the weekend I’ll flesh out this blog post with more details, but for starters Friday afternoon, here’s the big idea:
Build me a Blue Button enabled tool that….
… makes it easy to manage our frickin’ prescriptions and take the right pills at the right time!
My doctors’ computers know my prescriptions and when I’m supposed to take them, right? So do the pharmacies. And computers can mash up all kinds of information from different sources, and organize it, and display it clearly, right? So why do they make ME figure out when I should take what?
Let’s have an app that can read all my prescriptions, and organize them into times of day. Even better, it could print out my pillbox and add pictures of what goes in each square. Why not?? Isn’t that what computers do – make complex information easy??
That’s the idea: go get information that already exists, mash it together, and turn it into a simple schedule grid, to be printed or viewed online.
If we go really nuts, then we have the thing go get pictures of the pills, accurately represented with images from a certified Pill Finder, such as http://www.drugs.com/imprints.php. If you’ve ever seen a patient filling a big complicated pill box, you know how good this would be – “Let’s see, two of the little yellow ones go in the lunchtime slot…”
Even better, how about if you could tell it what kind of pill organizer you have, and it could get a picture? (Here are some Google Images for “pill organizer.”) Then it could show you what it should look like when it’s properly filled. Right?? Why should we have to figure that out ourselves??
Thoughts and notes:
An application that can pull all my prescription lists from the hospital, doctor, and pharmacy….
- Keeps my prescription list up to date
- Digital/Virtual Pill Box: takes all my prescriptions and prefills them into a digital picture of my model of pillbox (Walgreens model XYZ, or CVS model J17, or whatever).
- While we’re at it, why not link to information about the pill from a certified information source, like Drugs.com?
- Have pop-up reminders. (I know, there are a million apps that do this.)
- Click on the pill you’re taking and maybe show it dimmed in the digital pill box. Maybe the app records when it was clicked. (Maybe someday build in rewards for when the user completes a prescription (antibiotics) or completes a full week of a long term medication (ie: synthroid).)
You get the picture – once the information’s in there, in a useful form, there’s lots you can do with it. But the main idea is to simply take advantage of information that already exists, and present it simply and clearly.
Or, as I’ve often said in speeches: make it easy to do the right thing.
How is this different that other “pill reminder” apps on the market?
Access to the EHR! Information is the differentiator.
Phase II could incorporate…
- … two way feedback loop between the patient and pharmacist or physician.
- … a symptom tracker based on the standard set of known side effects, and can include basic questions the user must answer throughout the course of prescription. Could be very helpful for long term prescriptions (ie: tamoxifen, synthroid, RA drugs etc)
In short, whatever information exists in computers about my meds and my prescriptions, why let it die on the vine? Make the most of it – bring it to my life!
The story of this idea
When I had cancer in 2007 I was hospitalized seven times – once to have the kidney out, twice when the leg broke from a giant metastasis, and four times when HDIL-2 was administered. The most complex was the first week of IL-2, when I was discharged with seven medications to be taken on wildly different schedules: “Take this 3x/day with meals,” “take this between meals,” “take this when you get up,” etc etc.
Like, it’s not bad enough that I’m going home all beat to heck from a nasty treatment; now, to be successful, I also have to be clear headed and careful??
Happily, we were given a beautiful clear schedule grid. The odd thing was, the technology used to make it was a pencil and ruler.
In the hands of a nurse practitioner. Is that a good use of a skilled person’s time??
I asked why the computer didn’t do it, and she said computers can’t do it. Or maybe she said theirs can’t. Anyway, where we come from (Alicia and me, both geeks), computers constantly take messy information and display it clearly. Right?
The irony is that I only received this beautiful medication grid that one time – on the other discharges we were left to figure it out on our own.
I bet dollars to donuts this app will be appreciated and used … and I bet there will be delicious statistics on how much better people stick to the plan.
Doctors call that “compliance.” I call it “achievement.” And with any luck at all, we’ll all call it Better Health.
All achieved by simply combining digital assets that already exist. That’s mash-ups, baby – ain’t that modern?? Let’s do it!