Free Cell Phone Incentives Help The Fight Against Tuberculosis
The MIT News Office reports that a new technology project called X Out TB could reduce the incidence of TB worldwide by increasing compliance though incentive rewards
New Haven, CT - April 13, 2009 - Tuberculosis is a bacterial disease that kills millions worldwide despite the fact that there are known treatments for the condition - because curing the illness requires six to twelve months of daily antibiotics, many TB suffers forget doses or stop prematurely once their symptoms improve. In the case of TB, the dangers of this medical nonadherence are twofold: patients stay sick, and the bacteria their bodies become resistant to common antibiotics.
In the last year, however, a team of students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology called X Out TB has developed a remote, inexpensive, and effective program that pairs texting, urine test strips, and free cell phone minute incentives to bolster compliance rates and ultimately reduce TB rates globally. According to a report by the MIT News Office, a successful field-test in Nicaragua last year will be followed by programs in Pakistan and Indonesia this summer.
"There are a plethora of reasons that patients do not adhere to their medical regimen, but we've repeatedly found that chastising patients for noncompliance or forgetfulness simply doesn't help anyone," said Kevin Aniskovich, Chief Executive of the healthcare IT company Intelecare, which specializes in personal medical reminders for healthy living. "X Out TB reinforces much of what we've learned about increasing medical adherence in the last decade: that patients respond better to positive reinforcement, and that it is possible to create inexpensive, working incentive plans that can ultimately save lives."
In the X Out TB program, TB patients are given test strips that change color when exposed to metabolites from the TB medication in the patients' urine. The strips reveal a unique number, which patients then text to a database. If they log 25 successful texts a month, they receive free cell phone minutes. Both the monitoring aspect and the incentive aspect of the program can take place remotely - an important consideration for many rural areas affected by tuberculosis.
"Some of these people live six hours from the nearest health care center, so telling them that they have to come in every day to check if they're taking their medication is a non-starter," Jose Gomez-Marquez, the director of MIT's Innovations in International Health program, told MIT News. "Their lives are so hard already, and the last thing they need is to become an example of disappointment in another person's eyes. We're turning that around and rewarding them for doing good."
To read the article in full, please visit: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2008/tb-cellphone-tt0604.html
Established in 2005, Intelecare Compliance Solutions is a privately owned healthcare information technology company that provides an array of practical tools and services promoting medical adherence. With 84 percent of patients reporting forgetfulness as the major cause of non-compliance, and with the healthcare system suffering over $300 billion in costs annually due to non-compliance, Intelecare's solutions enable patients and caregivers alike to keep track of medications, doses, and doctor's appointments through the phone, mobile devices, and email - all while keeping simplicity, practicality, and innovation at the heart of its developments.
Aside from individual end-user services, Intelecare provides and manages a suite of scalable services for insurers, employers, retail pharmacies, non-profit organizations and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Currently supporting millions of subscribers, Intelecare is dedicated to finding functional solutions to the widespread issue of medical non-compliance for individuals around the world that work the way people live.
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*Intelecare is a registered trademark of Intelecare Compliance Solutions, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.