HIMSS 2017 - What I found as Interesting Implications for Pharmacy

One day...

...I will attend HIMSS. For now (and in the past) I follow along with Twitter and other websites/blogs that report what is going on at HIMSS, and I try to stay on track with anything interesting related to pharmacy in particular. This year, there were several items I think worth mentioning and giving some thoughts on:

Updates from Walgreens

Greg Orr (Vice President of Walgreen's Digital Division) gave a talk regarding their Balance Rewards for Healthy Choices program that aims to help with medication adherence, health and wellness, and immunizations by integrating their online platform and app. What I found interesting is that their program really is increasing user engagement and they are seeing positive feedback with many rewards ($3million in discounts) being given out. Of interest, even though their program focuses on rewards, it doesn't mean everyone stays on board and many people will drop off after several weeks of use. Despite this, they do seem to build a dedicated clientele, which I think is worth tapping into further, and finding out why the others drop off. Is it similar to other digital health interventions failings as of late I wonder? Of other interest, the program seems to be making an impact on adherence and vaccination rates.

I think Walgreens really has a big initiative here, and with further developments and partnerships, I can see this really blossom into a platform to tackle non-adherence in the future. That being the case, I'm not sure how much the push is on pharmacists to be engaged in this program. I would love to see the potential for pharmacist digital health coaches (though the issue with script processing/verification and workload is an issue) and help navigate their programs and solutions would be interesting in the future. Lastly, I wonder how CVS will respond, I haven't seen much from them, despite their opening of their innovation lab in Boston last year.

Further Readings for Walgreens:

On Adherence, Some more news from Proteus Health 

Proteus Health has been on my radar for some time, due in part to their bioingestible sensor that can track medication adherence. While I love the product, I think it is some time before we see this massively available to the general population, especially with their recent flop with Otsuka trying to get Abilify on the market with the sensors built in. 

Nonetheless, there was a presentation from Children's Health (a pediatric hospital network in Dallas, TX) that detailed their recent venture using Proteus's system in adolescent transplant patients. The feedback the system provided seemed to help with intervention in patients nonadherent to their medication regimens and demonstrates some more premise on the system as a good intervention in this population. Nonetheless, the issue that will face anyone using Proteus will be cost and reimbursement. I really am looking forward to the publication on this intervention and seeing the impact on the 32-subjects.

Medisafe expands to Drug-Drug Interactions on their Platform

Another company/app I follow that announced a new feature at HIMSS was Medisafe, the popular medication adherence app available on mobile devices. While they are currently doing a research project at Brigham and Women's using their system for medication adherence, they seem to also be buffing their program as well with other features. It seems they will be launching a medication interaction checker with their program, and I am really excited to test it. As most pharmacists know, interactions can be a tricky business on its own, and I would like to learn what database/system they are teaming up with to supply the information, or did they build their own? I will probably write another article in the near future testing it out compared to other programs (i.e. Micromedex, Lexicomp, Clinical Pharmacology). They can probably do a lot of good marketing at this point, based on the abysmal Chicago Tribune report last year that demonstrated poor drug-drug interactions verification by pharmacists (which I attribute to workload) where half of the interactions were missed. I always wonder what patients make of drug-drug interactions based on their own research (I haven't seen alot of studies on this, if you have one please comment) and I wonder what will happen as we empower patients with these tools in the future. I honestly hope pharmacists are involved in the process.

Voice Assitants Helping with Medication Adherence

The final item that caught my attention, which I think comes as no suprise as a development given the huge interest in chat bots and voice assistants, is whether Alexa or other smooth talking bots can help with a patients medications. "Alexa, what medication should I take now?" may eventually become something my grandmother says instead of calling me in the near future. In this case, Lenovo's Smart Assitant and Orbita's Voice along with the Amazon Alexa to build a patient-centric home assitant to help with medical issues. I am honestly curious how far this could go, and if Walgreens or other pharmacies see this as an oppurtunity to tap into as well with their own programs. 

Well, that sums up all the interesting things that I think applies to pharmacy at this point. If you know anything else I should have seen on Social Media or read, let me know below!