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Study: AdhereTech's smart pill bottle intervention improves adherence without major additional expense

Conducted by AdhereTech and Avella Specialty Pharmacy, this is the first peer-reviewed study of adherence startup's eight-year history.
By Dave Muoio
03:19 pm

AdhereTech’s smart pill bottle platform improved adherence and patient satisfaction among a small sample of multiple myeloma patients, according to a paper in the November issue of the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy.

This data has been roughly four years in the making, and stands the company’s first-ever peer-reviewed publication of adherence efficacy, AdhereTech CEO and cofounder Josh Stein told MobiHealthNews while teasing an additional, larger study data publication and strategic partnership news coming within the next several months.


Among the 40 participants recruited for the single-blinded study, 16 patients from each arm completed their treatment cycle and were included for six-month analysis. Among these, researchers reported that median medication adherence was higher among those provided the smart pill bottle intervention (100% versus 87.4%; p = .001), with the lowest adherence rate within the intervention arm reported as 91.8%. Those using the platform rated their experience highly in a post-study phone survey, with all nine respondents giving the highest marks to questions involving the technology’s ease of use and setup.

The annual cost of the platform and a single pharmacist intervention came to $1,210 per patient, and when paired with the 12.6% adherence improvement represents a $96.03 incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) per percentage adherence. The researchers also noted a nonsignificant increase in the average number of lenalidomide therapy treatment cycles completed by the participants.


In the AdhereTech and Avella Specialty Pharmacy-supported study, researchers recruited adult multiple myeloma patients who were new to lenalidomide therapy within a single center. These patients were evenly randomized to receive either the intervention or a control.

This intervention primarily consisted of AdhereTech’s platform, a smart pill bottle that encourages adherence through light signals, audible chimes and text message reminders. The system also integrates with the pharmacy’s systems, and users a built-in cellular chip to highlight non-adherence in real time for the pharmacist. In the study, a pharmacist conducted a check-in with the patient if their weekly adherence dropped below 80%.

Researchers compared six-month adherence between these two groups, in addition to monitoring other outcomes such as ICER, patient satisfaction and treatment cycle completion.


AdhereTech and its smart pill bottles have been around since the earlier part of the decade, and just last year put together a growth equity round intended to support platform scaling and improvement.

The digital startup and some of its partners have previously put together white papers outlining treatment adherence and cost benefits among larger cohorts, and have more data in the pipeline for journal publication. In particular Stein highlighted another soon-to-be published peer review study that extends beyond the endpoints of patient adherence and experience.

“The really neat stuff is in addition to adherence, [the upcoming study] addresses other health outcomes for patients. What I mean by that is these medications and lifesaving medications, and they work really well. AdhereTech has lots of published data showing that we improve adherence and patient experience … for these patients, but what this next study shows is, additionally, the improved adherence on these lifesaving meds translates into set outcomes.”

Stein also took the time to tease new strategic announcements for the company set for announcement in the coming weeks.


“Based on ICER findings, there is an opportunity for a value-based contracting model with an [smart pill bottle] program to lower health care costs,” the researchers wrote. “While the study population was small, we postulate that other disease states with oral medication therapy requiring tight dosing windows (e.g., transplant immunosuppressants, opioids or novel oral anticoagulants), complicated dosing regimens or those with low adherence rates may benefit from [smart pill bottle] and pharmacist-targeted intervention programs.”


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