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Patients who survive strokes and transient ischaemic attacks (TIA) can take anticoagulant medication that is highly effective at reducing the risk of recurrent strokes. Unfortunately, adherence to taking the medication is low. A University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine study identified barriers to compliance. The study found two major themes: patient barriers and medication barriers. Patients often lacked self-care ability, didn’t understand about strokes and medication, and didn’t attach much importance to the stroke. Medication barriers revolved around knowledge and confusion about medication regimes.

Researchers and physicians at the Montefiore Medical Center tested the effectiveness of a smartphone app developed by AiCure for medication adherence with stroke survivors. The results of the study were published in Stroke, an American Heart Association journal. The study had two groups: one with AI smartphone software, and a control group without. The software identified the patient and the medication. The app also confirmed ingestion with real-time video monitoring and provided medication reminders and instructions. Based on blood samples at the end of the 12 week study period, 100% of the patients in the AI group but only 50% of the control group adhered to the medication plan. The numbers based on the AI app visual confirmations were not quite so high, showing 90% adherence, so some patients followed the medication program without always using the smartphones. When the patients were surveyed at the conclusion of the study, 83% of the AI group rated the AiCure program “extremely good” as a tool for medication management and for improving the doctor/patient relationship.

This study showed that a smartphone app was able to help patients comply with a medication regime, even though some had little experience with smartphones. The application of real-time monitoring to improve patient adherence has positive implications for stroke patients on oral anticoagulant therapy and for other medication regimens.