Technology: a weapon in disease management

Pharmaceutical Representative

One managed care organization is gambling that combining technology and medicine will improve the health of its plan members, and improve its disease management efforts.

One managed care organization is gambling that combining technology and medicine will improve the health of its plan members, and improve its disease management efforts.

Mid Atlantic Medical Services Inc., Rockville, MD, has agreed to supply plan members with congestive heart failure with Medi-Monitors - videotape-sized portable interactive telemedicine devices that encourage them to take medications properly and assess health status and quality of life.

Each device, manufactured by InforMedix, also of Rockville, features a display screen that provides patients with detailed information about their medicines. It retains a month's supply of up to five medications in individual compartments and can be programmed to issue beeps and reminders for additional medications.

"Since medications don't work if you don't take them, the Medi-Monitor helps people take their medications at the right time in the right order, and in the right dosage," said Bruce Kehr, M.D., president of InforMedix and inventor of the product, which was awarded for "Most Effective Use of Cutting-Edge Technology" at the 1998 Congress of the American Medical Informatics Association in June.

The technology monitors medication use and health status by providing a date- and time-stamped record of when the patient took his or her medications. It then electronically transmits the information, along with patient responses to questions about symptoms, side effects and medical status, by telephone via a built-in modem. This helps physicians monitor the condition and progress of patients at home.

Mid Atlantic Medical Services Inc. will recruit plan members with congestive heart failure to participate in the voluntary program for 12 months. The collected data will be made available to the patients' physicians, case managers and consulting pharmacists for review and analysis. PR