Facebook MedMinder

Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 8:31am

Doctors create Facebook app to help young patients remember to take their meds.

For young transplant patients keeping up to date on their medications may be the last thing on their minds.

"Often they've had chronic illnesses. They want to be like their peers, which I don't blame them, so sometimes they forget to take their medications," says Dr. Patrick Brophy, director of the Division of Pediatric Nephrology, Dialysis and Transplantation at the University of Iowa Children's Hospital.

Falling behind on medications could result in serious consequences, such as a patient losing a kidney.

Brophy was discussing the problem at home, when his son came up with a solution.

"He kind of looked at me and said, well why don't you just put it up on Facebook? I said, that's a pretty good idea," Brophy explains.

Brophy helped develop new software called Iowa MedMinder.

The Facebook application shows patients a list of all the medications and the frequency in which they should be taken for a particular day.

The patients then check off the medications when they take them.

The information is then sent to a secure hospital healthcare server for doctors to monitor.

"If they don't' take it, hopefully we'll be able to set up a notification system to either text them through their phones or email them," Brophy says.

That information is compared with later blood tests for drug levels and will help doctors determine if patients have really been taking their medications.

Brophy says he's been contacted by health officials from the all over the United States and Canada, interested in his idea.

"There's so many potential applications of this thing, and I think it's got legs of its own," Brophy said.

A possible glimpse of the future of better health care delivery.

Officials are working to meet privacy laws.

The information will only appear the patient's Facebook page and not for others to see.

The software was funded by a portion of grant from Peregrine Charities.

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