Can Mobile Solve a $289 Billion Problem?

Pill bottles

In a mobile world, providing seamless content delivery and an elegant user experience is the key to repeat use and monetization—separating successful products from those that are downloaded and never used.  While the lion’s share of resources and attention are funneled into R&D for products that encourage and track healthy lifestyles, manage chronic disease and curate clinical data, some of the causes outside of the mainstream can deliver the biggest impact on our health system.

These include apps to create health system efficiencies and, as a recent Forbes article explores, translate an improvement in drug adherence into Medicare and Medicaid cost savings. The Annals of Internal Medicine estimates that the costs of non-adherence are between $100 billion and $289 billion each year.  To illustrate the scale of this issue in other terms, up to half of all prescribed medications aren’t even filled.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, improving the rate of filled prescriptions by 1% can create a Medicare savings of nearly $4 billion over the next decade.

Whether the end result is an app with an alarm, “Inbox” of drug dosing information or a tool that syncs up with an Outlook or Google calendar; this is another example of using technology to address a simple problem—the mantra guiding solutions-based app design.

As the patent cliff and death of the blockbuster changes biopharma as we know it, adherence is an increasingly important communications focus.  Medications taken incorrectly help no one. If we channel resources and place an emphasis on innovation, there will soon be an app for that.

  • Sam Welch

    A veteran marketer of some of the world’s most recognizable names in healthcare, Sam brings a broad perspective to communications as Global Group President for Discovery Chicago, Razorfish Healthware and the Saatchi & Saatchi Health brand families. Agency offerings include professional promotion, consumer communications, branding, customer relationship management, digital promotion, and government affairs. Previous roles within PHCG include President of Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare Communications Group in the U.S. and Chief Operating Officer of PHCG. Sam serves on the board of The Child Center of NY, an organization dedicated to serving at-risk youth through education, counseling, and youth development services.


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