Publications, Pharmaceutical

Elevating Medication Adherence and Clinical Outcomes with Connected Drug Delivery

In this comprehensive article, Joachim Koerner, Director of R&D Connected Devices, and Marcus Bates, Vice-President of Business Development, both at Aptar Digital Health, delve into the pressing issue of medication non-adherence in healthcare and how connected digital health solutions can revolutionize patient experiences, ultimately leading to improved medication adherence and clinical outcomes.

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Author(s): Joachim Koerner Marcus Bates
18 Dec 2023

Medication non-adherence has plagued the healthcare sector for decades, presenting a multifaceted challenge that lacks a one-size-fits-all solution due to its dependence on various factors and the specific conditions patients are managing. The authors highlight the emergence of connected drug delivery solutions as a promising approach to support patients dealing with chronic health conditions. These solutions leverage education, engagement, communication, evidence-based recommendations, and more to guide patients in medication management while enabling them to lead their daily lives.

To achieve these transformative results and shift the focus from reactive disease management to preventive care, organizations must rethink their approach to solution development, starting from the early stages of therapeutic development.


The Challenge of Medication Non-Adherence

Two decades ago, a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that average medication adherence rates for patients with chronic conditions hovered around a meager 50%. While these rates have improved slightly over the years, they still remain below 60%. The American Medical Association considers patients non-adherent if they take less than 80% of their prescribed medications.

Non-adherence stems from five general categories:

Individual patient motivation: Personal reasons, such as denial of diagnosis, cognitive impairment, religious or cultural aversion, or fear of side effects, can lead patients to choose not to take medication.

Social determinants of health: Limited access to reliable care, including transportation to appointments, hinders patients’ ability to renew prescriptions or communicate with healthcare providers.

Insurance coverage: Cost is a significant barrier, particularly for biologics and patients managing multiple chronic conditions.

The condition being treated: Asymptomatic chronic conditions or psychiatric conditions often lead to higher non-adherence rates.

The treatment prescribed: Patients may skip or discontinue treatments that are challenging to administer or have unpleasant side effects.

The consequences of poor medication adherence are profound, resulting in an estimated 125,000 preventable deaths and up to $300 billion in healthcare costs in the United States alone. Non-adherence also contributes to deteriorating clinical outcomes as untreated conditions worsen.


The Value Proposition for Connected Drug Delivery Solutions

Given the complexity of addressing medication adherence, healthcare stakeholders are increasingly interested in digital tools that not only facilitate medication intake but also empower patients to manage their chronic conditions effectively. Connected drug delivery solutions are designed to enhance treatment effectiveness and efficiency.

These solutions may employ sensors to collect vital signs, patient-reported outcomes (PROs) like symptoms and side effects, and administration instructions. They aggregate and analyze this data to provide actionable recommendations, educational materials, monitor patient progress, and enable continuous communication between patients and care teams.

Connected drug delivery solutions empower patients in three crucial ways:

Improved understanding of their condition: Patients gain insights into their condition and the importance of therapy in their overall management plan.

Personalized treatment: Recommendations are based on individual data and evidence-based treatment pathways.

Enhanced communication: Patients can engage with care teams more frequently than traditional in-person appointments, fostering better care.

The market for connected drug delivery solutions is expanding rapidly, with estimates suggesting that it could exceed $25 billion by the end of the decade. Growth is driven by efforts to improve medication adherence and the rising prevalence of chronic conditions demanding lifelong patient engagement.


Ten Use Cases for Connected Drug Delivery Solutions

Connected drug delivery solutions offer a range of use cases to support patients and improve adherence:

Decentralized Clinical Trials: Patients can participate without frequent in-person visits, benefiting traditionally underrepresented populations and providing real-world evidence for therapies.

Supporting Self-Administration: Tutorials ensure patients administer treatments correctly, especially for therapies with high costs.

Providing Education: Patients learn about treatment mechanisms and the importance of adherence.

Communicating Patient-Reported Outcomes (PROs): Patients log structured data for care teams, keeping them informed.

Managing Side Effects: Connected Drug Delivery Solutions offer insights into side effects and provide evidence-based recommendations.

A Platform for Supplemental Products: Patients can access prescriptions and other approved products, enhancing their care experience.

Patient Support Programs: Patients connect with others for guidance and support beyond clinical discussions.

Motivation and Encouragement: Tailored encouragement helps patients stay on track, especially for lifelong conditions.

Recommendations for Preventive Care: Connected Drug Delivery Solutions aid in predicting future risks and enable preventive services.

A Single Platform for Data Access: Data can be shared with healthcare providers and insurers on an open platform.


In conclusion, connected drug delivery solutions represent a transformative opportunity to address medication non-adherence and enhance patient experiences in managing chronic conditions. These connected solutions provide a multifaceted solution to a complex problem, offering numerous benefits to patients, healthcare providers, and the healthcare ecosystem as a whole. The growing market for connected drug delivery solutions underscores their potential to revolutionize healthcare by promoting medication adherence and improving clinical outcomes.

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