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Smartphone app helps TB patients

Monday February 25th, 2019

Patients with tuberculosis are more likely to continue their drug treatment if they are supported by treatment via smartphones, according to a new study.

Researchers at University College London, UK, analysed 226 patients in London, 58% of whom had a history of homelessness, mental health issues, imprisonment or addiction.

The findings, published in The Lancet, show that seven out of 10 patients completed at least 80% of their scheduled treatments when using an app on their smartphone, which proved they had taken their treatment.

Patients used the app to film themselves taking the treatment, which was submitted securely to the clinical team. For patients who had directly observed treatment at face-to-face appointments, fewer than half of treatment doses could be confirmed.

Lead author Professor Andrew Hayward, of UCL Epidemiology and Heath Care, said: “Taking regular tuberculosis treatment is difficult, but if poorly treated, the disease can kill, infect others and become resistant to antibiotics.

“National TB authorities worldwide often require patients to meet health care workers daily to take their medications under direct observation, a standard of care that is often difficult to maintain over the many months that TB treatment lasts.

“Our NIHR funded trial shows patients can use a smartphone app to prove they have taken their treatment and this is much more effective, cheaper and convenient than face-to-face meetings.

“This allowed us to support tuberculosis treatment even in people who are homeless or suffering from drug addiction. We are very excited about the potential of this technology to improve treatment of this killer disease.”

Dr Tereza Kasaeva, director of the World Health Organisation’s global TB programme, described the results as an “important landmark”.

“This innovative approach is fully aligned with WHO's strategic vision to provide patient-centred care, increase adherence and improve treatment outcomes for the people with TB,” she added.

Lancet 22 February 2019

Tags: Respiratory | UK News

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