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Effectiveness of Mobile Medical Apps in Ensuring Medication Safety Among Patients With Chronic Diseases: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2022 Nov 22;10(11):e39819. doi: 10.2196/39819.


BACKGROUND: Along with the rapid growth of the global aging society, the mobile and health digital market has expanded greatly. Countless mobile medical apps (mmApps) have sprung up in the internet market, aiming to help patients with chronic diseases achieve medication safety.

OBJECTIVE: Based on the medication safety action plans proposed by the World Health Organization, we aimed to explore the effectiveness of mmApps in ensuring the medication safety of patients with chronic diseases, including whether mmApps can improve the willingness to report adverse drug events (ADEs), improve patients’ medication adherence, and reduce medication errors. We hoped to verify our hypothesis through a systematic review and meta-analysis.

METHODS: The meta-analysis was performed in strict accordance with the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines and included literature searched from 7 databases-PubMed, Web Of Science, Embase, CINAHL, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, Wanfang, and SinoMed. The publication time was limited to the time of database establishment to April 30, 2022. Studies were screened based on inclusion and exclusion criteria. The data extracted included authors, years of publication, countries or regions, participants’ characteristics, intervention groups, and control groups, among others. Our quality assessment followed the guidelines of the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions, Version 6.3. RevMan 5.2 software (Cochrane Collaboration) was used to analyze the statistical data, and a sensitivity analysis was performed to assess data stability. The degree of stability was calculated by using a different statistical method and excluding large-sample studies from the analysis.

RESULTS: We included 8 studies from 5 countries (China, the United States, France, Canada, and Spain) that were published from January 1, 2014, to December 31, 2021. The total number of participants was 1355, and we analyzed the characteristics of included studies, each app’s features, the risk of bias, and quality. The results showed that mmApps could increase ADE reporting willingness (relative risk [RR] 2.59, 95% CI 1.26-5.30; P=.009) and significantly improve medication adherence (RR 1.17, 95% CI 1.04-1.31; P=.007), but they had little effect on reducing medication errors (RR 1.54, 95% CI 0.33-7.29; P=.58).

CONCLUSIONS: We analyzed the following three merits of mmApps, with regard to facilitating the willingness to report ADEs: mmApps facilitate more communication between patients and physicians, patients attach more importance to ADE reporting, and the processing of results is transparent. The use of mmApps improved medication adherence among patients with chronic diseases by conveying medical solutions, providing educational support, tracking medications, and allowing for remote consultations. Finally, we found 3 potential reasons for why our medication error results differed from those of other studies.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: PROSPERO International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews CRD42022322072;

PMID:36413386 | DOI:10.2196/39819

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