October 12, 2005
Johns Hopkins University Division of Infectious Disease researchers found that a pocket-sized device helps ensure that HIV patients with slightly impaired memory comply with their medication regimens.
The portable Disease Management Assistance System, nicknamed "Jerry" by users, gives electronic-voice reminders, flashes a light and tells patients the exact dosages and medications to take at a given time. DMAS is rechargeable and weighs approximately as much as a cell phone. It has computer programming to keep track of patients' compliance, and doctors can download and print reports to monitor patient adherence.
Fifty-eight patients completed the four-month study. Half were given Jerry and attended adherence-counseling sessions. The other half received only counseling. The investigators recruited patients with either normal memory or mild memory impairment. Both groups had better adherence with Jerry, but the memory-impaired participants showed greater improvement. There was not a significant variance between the normal-memory participant groups who had and did not have Jerry, researchers said. Subjects with Jerry took their medication 80 percent of the time; subjects without Jerry did so 65 percent of the time.
Of the 31 memory-impaired patients, those with Jerry had a 77 percent adherence rate, while those without had a 57 percent adherence rate, a 20 percent difference. Participants received plasma viral load tests throughout the study, but the authors found no significant difference in lessening the HIV amount between those with or without Jerry.
The study, "A Programmable Prompting Device Improves Adherence to Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy," was published in Clinical Infectious Diseases (2005;41(6)875-882).