Bar and Quick Response Codes Helping Elderly Patients for a Safer Drug Use

José Joaquín Mira* José Joaquín Mira*, HEALTH PSYCHOLOGY DEPARMENT, ELCHE, Spain
César Fernández, University Miguel Hernández, Elche, Spain
María Asunción Vicente, University Miguel Hernández, Elche, Spain
Mercedes Guilabert, University Miguel Hernández, Elche, Spain
Irene Carrillo, University Miguel Hernández, Elche, Spain

Track: Research
Presentation Topic: Mobile & Tablet Health Applications
Presentation Type: Poster presentation
Submission Type: Single Presentation

Last modified: 2014-05-16

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Background: Elderly patients follow usually a complex therapeutic regimen taking diary five or more medications. Many of them have had the experience of pill confusions or mistakes of the correct dose. These mistakes often were only a scare, but sometimes had severe consequences. In a series of studies with groups of elderly patients with several chronic pathologies we had learned from them some tricks useful for a correct use of their medication.
Objective: To design and develop an app that transforms medication-associated EAN-13 (barcodes) and QR into verbal instructions, to enable safer use of medication by the patient.
Methods: We developed an app capable of storing some key information about a medicine as audio recordings. The users should be able to access such data just by showing the medicine box to their smartphones or tablets, and the app should give the information via voice. This app was especially created for using drugs by elderly patients with mild memory impairments and caregivers who tend to rotate between the morning and evening or between brief periods of time. The study was approved by the Ethics Committee of Miguel Hernández University (reference DPS-JJM-01-13) and funded by the Generalitat Valenciana, reference PCC-19/13.
Results: The app was named TUMEDICINA (YOURMEDICINE). As soon as the app is started; it begins a barcode or QR search. Once a code is detected, the app enters the patient area and allows the patient to hear the different data fields associated with the medicine. A secret gesture (in our case, a diagonal swipe across the tablet’s touchscreen) allows us to leave the patient area and enter the caretaker area, where all data associated with a medicine can be introduced or modified. The caretaker can also check the current recordings. Whenever the return button is tapped the app starts searching for codes again. A total of 61 patients tested this app. Their mean age was 68.8 years (SD 8.3). Thirty-eight (62.3%) were men. A mean of 3.0 (SD 2.0) chronic disorders was reported. The mean number of drugs taken daily was 6 (SD 3.2). Thirteen (21.3%) patients reported having made at least one medication error during the previous year. A smartphone was previously used by 13 (21.3%) participants. The degree of satisfaction with TUMEDICINA was 8.3 (SD 1.6) points, out of a maximum of 10. There was a not difference in the assessment between patients with or without experience using cell phones or surfing on the Internet (p=0.88).
Conclusions: TUMEDICINA is a first attempt to apply barcodes or QR technology to an application attempting to prevent medication errors among older persons taking 5 or more drugs daily. The study patients valued an application positively and considered it useful for a safer use of their drugs. The use of this app was equally easy for the patients who already had experience with cell phones as for those who were using this technology for the first time.

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