Do the elderly want technology to help them take their medication?

May 10, 2018

Over 65s say they would find technology to help them take their medications helpful, but need the technology to be familiar, accessible and easy to use, according to research by Queen Mary University of London and University of Cambridge. People who do not use smartphones said that they'd prefer to have smartwatches than smartphones for reminders to take their pills.

Around one tenth of cardiovascular events are associated with poor medication adherence, but some patients could be helped through new technologies to aid them with tablet taking and monitor adherence.

Some technologies include apps that allow patients to receive counselling about medications and reminders to improve and monitor tablet taking. There are also interactive text message reminders for tablet taking. And Ingestible sensor systems (ISSs) are a combination of wearable and ingestible sensors working in conjunction with smartphones, PCs and tablets to detect ingested medication.

However, not much is known on whether over 65s might find it difficult to adopt these technologies, due to ethnic diversity, and age-related physical and mental impairments.

The study, published in the Journal of International Medical Research, investigated opinions about available technologies in a focus group of patients aged over 65 taking cardiovascular medications.

The over 65s in the study generally valued the opportunity to receive alerts to help with practical aspects of medicine taking, like forgetting and monitoring treatment:

Other concerns included potential reduction in face-to-face communication, data security, becoming dependent on technology and worrying about the consequences of technological failures:

Lead researcher Dr Anna De Simoni from Queen Mary University of London said: "These findings have highlighted that people over 65 on cardiovascular medications are willing to consider technology to help with practical aspects of their day-to-day medicine taking, such as getting reminder alerts and monitoring doses taken, either themselves or by carers and clinicians.

"In clinical consultations about medicine taking, healthcare professionals can explore technologies familiar and easily accessible to patients as a way to ensure good adherence. To this end additionally checking on common concerns, like worries about data security, becoming dependent on technology and consequences of technological failures can be beneficial."
-end-
The study was funded by the National Institute of Health Research and Queen Mary's Centre for Public Engagement.

For more information, please contact:

Joel Winston
Public Relations Manager - Medicine and Dentistry
Queen Mary University of London
Tel: +44-0-207-882-7943
Mobile: +44-0-7970-096-188
ston@qmul.ac.uk">j.winston@qmul.ac.uk

Notes to the editor

About Queen Mary University of London

Queen Mary University of London is one of the UK's leading universities with 25,332 students representing more than 160 nationalities.

A member of the Russell Group, we work across the humanities and social sciences, medicine and dentistry, and science and engineering, with inspirational teaching directly informed by our research. In the most recent national assessment of the quality of research, we were placed ninth in the UK amongst multi-faculty universities (Research Excellence Framework 2014).

As well as our main site at Mile End - which is home to one of the largest self-contained residential campuses in London - we have campuses at Whitechapel, Charterhouse Square, and West Smithfield dedicated to the study of medicine and dentistry, and a base for legal studies at Lincoln's Inn Fields.

Queen Mary began life as the People's Palace, a Victorian philanthropic project designed to bring culture, recreation and education to the people of the East End. We also have roots in Westfield College, one of the first colleges to provide higher education to women; St Bartholomew's Hospital, one of the first public hospitals in Europe; and The London, one of England's first medical schools.

About the National Institute of Health Research

Established by the Department of Health and Social Care, the NIHR:

For further information, visit the NIHR website.

Queen Mary University of London

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