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Sept. 24, 2013

MSU, Sparrow award grant to help seniors manage medication

Sparrow Health System and Michigan State University’s Center for Innovation and Research has awarded a grant to develop a mobile app that aims to tackle an issue – medication management – that causes thousands of unnecessary deaths each year.

The $75,000 grant, the first from the recently created Center for Innovation and Research, was awarded to Erin Sarzynski of MSU’s Department of Family Medicine, Geriatrics Division, in the College of Human Medicine. The grant will be used to develop and test a mobile app that will streamline medication management for patients with chronic illnesses and encourage adherence to regimens.

“Among patients with chronic illness, about 50 percent do not take their medications as prescribed, which leads to poor outcomes, decreased quality of life and even death,” Sarzynski said. “We intend for this tool to empower patients with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease, to play a more active role in managing their medications.”

Researchers will develop a mobile app that automatically and accurately populates patients’ medication instructions from medication labels and provide customized dosing reminders. The app will be developed in partnership with a Michigan-based small business and piloted by local patients.

Researchers will use the app to track the pilot group’s adherence to their drug regimens and seek feedback from the patients and their physicians about their experiences using the app. None of the currently available medication adherence apps are clinically tested, and all require cumbersome manual data entry.

Sarzynski is partnering with Ronald Melaragni, director of Sparrow Pharmacy Plus, and David Weismantel, director of the Sparrow-MSU Family Medicine Residency Program. As collaborators, Melaragni will assist in pharmacy data management and Weismantel will assist in patient recruitment and data analysis.

“The center was created to focus on high-priority projects that can be rapidly developed and deployed for the benefit of our patients,” said interim director of the center, Barbara Given, MSU distinguished professor in the College of Nursing. “We hope this research will develop an innovative solution and prevent avoidable hospitalizations that will promote patient safety and quality of care.”

The Center for Innovation and Research, created last year, is a major joint initiative between Sparrow and MSU that aims to seek new approaches to quality, safe and cost-effective care and deliver patient-centered, evidence-based best practices.

By: Jason Cody