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MD Health Plan Launches mHealth Program for Medication Adherence

University of Maryland Health Partners will be using emocha's mHealth app and platform to help Medicaid members living with type 2 diabetes improve their medication adherence.

Source: ThinkStock

By Eric Wicklund

- A Maryland health plan is launching an innovative mHealth program aimed at improving medication adherence for its Medicaid members living with type 2 diabetes.

University of Maryland Health Partners (UMHP), which serves roughly 48,000 members in 20 counties and Baltimore City, is combining an mHealth app, a connected health platform and a cash reward in a three-month program designed to compel members to improve their care management.

The health plan will be using the emocha mHealth app and Adherence Coach platform, designed by Baltimore-based emocha Mobile Health. The app uses video directly observed therapy (VDOT), in which the patient uses his or her smartphone to record himself or herself taking prescribed medications, then sends that video to one’s care provider.

“We believe in fostering strong relationships with our members through supportive care management strategies and innovative technology,” Mark Puente, UMHP’s president and chief executive officer, said in a press release. “By creating a daily connection with our members, this new program will help to improve healthcare for the most vulnerable.”

With backing from Johns Hopkins and the NIH, emocha has built its business on monitoring patients dealing with issues like tuberculosis and Hepatitis C. And that platform is expanding. The company can also work with providers on HIV treatment, monitoring outbreaks, and in smoking cessation programs. In 2017, the company announced plans to expand into opioid addiction treatment, armed with a $1.7 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Healthcare providers typically rely on in-person meetings to make sure patients are taking their prescribed medications (directly observed therapy, of DOT). With public health programs or community clinics serving disadvantaged populations, that regimen is difficult to uphold – meetings are skipped or missed, medications aren’t taken, and the patient’s health doesn’t improve or deteriorates, leading to increased treatment costs.

With an mHealth app that uses VDOT, providers can batter track and manage medication adherence regardless of where provider and patient are located. One provider can also keep track of a larger group of patients.

UMHP is reportedly the first health plan to use emocha’s connected health platform and the first to use it for patients with type 2 diabetes.

Members who participate in the program will track their daily medication adherence through the emocha app and have access to an Adherence Coach, who will review the videos, assess whether they are following doctor’s orders and offer encouragement and health and wellness advice. Those who meet medication adherence goals at the end of the three months will receive a $100 gift card.

UMHP is partnering with Total Health Care, a federally qualified health center (FQHC) with nine locations in and around Baltimore City, to coordinate the program.

“We believe in taking a comprehensive approach to caring for our patients,” Dr. Wyndy Webb, Pharm D, MBA, PMP, Total health Care’s Chief Operating Officer, said in the press release. “Ensuring that patients take their medication as prescribed and supporting them through this process daily can provide a tremendous benefit to their overall treatment.”

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