eMMa: medication management app improves patient care
eMMa: medication management app improves patient care
Interview with Florian Meißner, CEO of vital.services GmbH
A conversation between the patient and the doctor is always at the start of the health journey. The idea is to set the stage and share important information. This process can be shortened if information is already available in digital form. In the future, patients can submit their medication plan via app thanks to "eMMa".
In this MEDICA-tradefair.com interview, Florian Meißner talks about the medication management app "eMMa", explains how it helps speed up the hospital admission process and reveals the potential for future eHealth services.
Mr. Meißner, what is the idea behind "eMMa"?
Florian Meißner: "eMMa" stands for "patient-centered eMedication management as an add-on to the medication management care plan" (German: Patientenzentriertes eMedikationsmanagement als Add-On zum Medikationsplan). This project aims to increase the medical safety for patients via value-added services and optimize the organizational processes related to patient care. This necessitates medication data in an open, reusable format. We chose the German nationwide medication plan standard ("bundeseinheitlicher Medikationsplan"). Our first web application mein.klinikplan.de (German website) enables patients to manage their medication plan based on this standard.
What problem does the mein.klinikplan.de app address?
Meißner: Despite being a very useful format, we frequently notice that the nationwide medication plan is barely being utilized. We want to give patients sovereignty and build their confidence to create and use this plan. This means patients can also transmit their medication data to healthcare providers like a hospital.
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Direct data transfer replaces a long talk: the medication app "eMMa" is able to save a lot of time when a patient is admitted to a hospital or visits a new physician's office. This time is freed up for patient care instead.
What functions does the app have?
Meißner: Patients visit the web application and can directly enter their medications. This enables them to manage their medication plan on their own at home, i.e. they can enter the different medications, dosage, and administration frequency themselves. To do this, patients can either scan the barcode on the package by using a camera or manually enter the “Pharma-Zentral-Nummer or PZN (pharmaceutical central/general number) on the package. He or she can also add additional medications and information using the text field. The medication plan can include medications prescribed by physicians and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs chosen by the patient. All this is essential information that ensures medication safety as part of the patient treatment plan.
The web application retrieves information about the medication from the Avoxa / ABDATA drug database. This ensures that the medication is clearly verified and based on the latest updated information.
What role should the app play in hospital management?
Meißner: The use at hospitals is our first use case where we definitely see optimization potential. We can add value by offering our value-added services in this setting. When patients are admitted to hospitals, administrators first create a list with all medications. This means all medications are manually recorded, which is a time-consuming process. Patients with scheduled and planned admissions can use our web application to prepare this information at their own pace in their own homes prior to their visit. Once the patient is officially admitted, the medication data and history has already been completed and is directly available, allowing the hospital to spend more time to consult with the patient and provide high-quality care and service.
What do patients and hospital facilities need to use the app?
Meißner: Patients only need an internet-enabled device, meaning a tablet, smartphone or PC, and an updated web browser. Patients also need the respective information about their medications. There is no further investment needed on the part of hospitals and doctor’s offices as most of them already have a scanner that can read the 3D barcode of the nationwide medication plan.
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eMMa is a joint project of scientific institutions (ZAMS – Drug Safety Center of the University of Leipzig, the Leipzig University Hospital, the University Computing Center and the Independent Department of General Medicine), regional IT companies (vital.services GmbH, Mogic GmbH) and other stakeholders in Saxony (HEALTHY SAXONY - Association for the Promotion of the Health Industry eV, Sana Geriatriezentrum Zwenkau, Institute for Applied Computer Science e.V.).
Everything at a glance: ideally, the information entered by the patient paint a clear and comprehensive image for the physician.
"eMMa" is currently being tested at the Leipzig University Hospital and the sana Kliniken Leipziger Land. What are you planning to achieve during this phase?
Meißner: We want to study and validate the app’s manageability and usability. Older adults tend to take several medications and benefit from the structured medication plan. That’s why we want to make sure they can use the app without encountering errors or barriers. In the run-up to this, we already tested different usability and navigation options. We also included other selections, such as the option to change the font size, always based on the latest trends in technology.
We also want to check how and whether medication information truly creates an added value in healthcare practices compared to instances when the patient has not completed medication information prior to hospital admission.
What are your plans for the future?
Meißner: Our goal is to create more value-added services based on the patient-centered medication plan. This might include improved communication about unwanted drug adverse effects for example. If we give patients a structured option to indicate problems with medications, physicians or other healthcare providers would be able to respond faster. Another use case might pertain to improving the logistics supply chain, which is currently still handled in analog form. An electronic prescription combined with "eMMa" would enable us to noticeably optimize the supply chain.
The project is funded by the Free State of Saxony and the EU as part of the ERDF program "Promoting innovative approaches to healthcare and care management". Starting January 1, 2021, this would make different financing options possible, which includes "medically prescribed apps" as a digital health application. We are also working on the validation needed to facilitate health reimbursement. Another possibility is for hospital facilities or major medical practices to offer "eMMa" as a patient service.
The interview was conducted by Timo Roth and translated from German by Elena O'Meara. MEDICA-tradefair.com