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HomeminewsFree Australian-first app reminds patients when to have eyedrops

Free Australian-first app reminds patients when to have eyedrops

A smartphone eye drop app developed by a junior doctor aims to improve compliance and clinical outcomes by reminding patients and their carers when to instil their eyedrops.

Dr Duri Kim

Launched in October, the Sydney Eyedrop planner and reminder application triggers reminders when eye drops are due and also tracks eye drop use. It is designed for the public to promote ophthalmic medication adherence by providing notifications to take eye medications according to their doctor’s advice and was developed to make it easier for them to clarify communication.

Dr Duri Kim, also a qualified pharmacist, led a team of nine from Sydney Hospital and Sydney Eye Hospital to create the app after witnessing patients struggling to instil eye drops and hearing that others missed their regular medication or forgot to take it.

Research shows 23%-60% of patients are non-adherent

“This Australian-first app for eye medication reminders is free,” Dr Kim told mivision. “I come across many patients who struggle with eye drop use and this gets more difficult as it is a multifactorial challenge i.e. elderly, dexterity, multiple drops, different eye drop plans for each eye, forgetfulness, social situations, other medical comorbidities.

“Also, even young patients with busy lives and drop-naive patients, when it is the first time to use any eye drops, find it quite tricky and often miss their eye drops.”

She said patient adherence was key in successful ophthalmic therapy and this well-recognised challenge lay in all ophthalmology subspecialties including post-operative care such as cataract and chronic conditions including glaucoma.

“Research shows 23%-60% of patients are non-adherent,1,2,” she said. “Our project is a simple, cost-effective solution to support patients and improve clinical outcomes.”

Apple’s App Store says the eye drop plans can be set up to include reminders of drug names, which eye(s), frequency and duration, as well as tailored times of the day. Colour-coded schedules remind the day, time, in which eye, the medication and the colour of the top of the bottle.

98%-100% of glaucoma patients found it easy to use the app and chart

Drug Database Included

A drug database derived from another app developed by Sydney Eye Hospital, the Sydney Eye Hospital Pharmacopoeia, is included. People can search for their medications by generic or trade drug name, or by manually entering a name. They can add multiple medications including eye drops, tablets and ointments.

Users can find and save their treatments, record treatment notes and review eye drop use in a colour-coded eye drop diary which enables patients to click when drops have been instilled, marking them as taken. It also indicates if drops are due, due soon or due later.

An accompanying dedicated paper-based ophthalmic medication chart, the Sydney Eyedrop chart, was also developed for patients as standard of care. It outlines directions before instilling eye drops and gives a paper plan.

Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation funded the project with a $17,000 donation.

“I had a chat with the hospital’s medical director, Dr Pauline Rumma, and the foundation CEO Linda Fagan, about this idea. They were so generous and gave me funding and amazing support to bring this to reality,” Dr Kim said.

The app was initially developed to improve adherence to glaucoma therapies at the hospital, with a view to extend hospital-wide.

Preliminary data from a trial which tested the system showed 98%-100% of glaucoma patients found it easy to use the app and chart. Patients and carers appreciated the clear written communication and reminder system which is now included in eye care by multidisciplinary teams at Sydney Eye Hospital and is being expanded to all subspecialties, outpatient and in-patient settings and to include multi-lingual options.

The next phase is to expand to include Android app development and multilingual features.

The project was selected as one of Australian Vision Research’s best papers at the 2023 RANZCO congress in Perth recently and Dr Kim also displayed a poster at the World Association of Eye Hospitals’ 17th annual meeting at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, Melbourne in October.

An awareness campaign with education sessions uses #SydneyEyedrop and #Savedropsavesight as hashtags.

The developer does not collect any data from the app which can be downloaded from the App Store: Sydney Eyedrop on the App Store (apple.com).

References

  1. Richardson C., Brunton L., Mottershead J., et al., A study to assess the feasibility of undertaking a randomized controlled trial of adherence with eye drops in glaucoma patients. Patient preference and adherence. 2013;7:1025-39.
  2. Sleath B., Blalock S., Muir K., et al., The relationship between glaucoma medication adherence, eye drop technique, and visual field defect severity. Ophthalmology. 2011;118(12):2398-402.