The Power of Pharma Apps for Improving Medication Adherence


The Power of Pharma Apps for Improving Medication Adherence

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The Power of Pharma Apps for Improving Medication Adherence

Medication non-adherence is a pressing issue in healthcare, leading to poor health outcomes and increased costs. It is estimated that medication non-adherence causes around 125,000 deaths and at least 10% of hospitalizations every year in the United States, costing the healthcare system between $100 billion and $289 billion annually. Improving medication adherence could thus provide substantial benefits for patients, providers, and the healthcare system.

In recent years, mobile health (mHealth) apps have emerged as a promising approach to promoting medication adherence. These apps utilize various features like reminders, tracking, education, and incentives to encourage patients to take their medications as prescribed. Studies indicate that patients using mHealth apps demonstrate clinically meaningful improvements in medication adherence across various chronic conditions.

However, developing evidence-based and user-friendly mHealth apps requires specialized expertise that many pharmaceutical companies lack. This is where dedicated pharma app development services can make a major difference. Companies like Empeek that focus specifically on building apps for pharmaceutical brands are better positioned to create apps that truly move the needle on medication adherence.

Empeek’s approach centers on two foundational pillars of pharmaceutical application development services that patients use and benefit from — behavioral science and design thinking.

1. The Power of Behavioral Science

Medication non-adherence largely stems from human behavior and decision-making. Environmental cues, forgetfulness, complex regimens, lack of motivation, and economic constraints are some of the many behavioral barriers patients face in properly following medication plans.

Behavioral science offers evidence-based techniques to influence human behaviors. For instance, Empeek incorporates key principles from psychology, behavioral economics, motivation theory, and habit formation to promote specific medication adherence behaviors within app experiences.

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For instance, apps may apply digital nudges in the form of personalized reminders, refill alerts, and tracking visibility to trigger adherence actions. Streaks, rewards, peer stories, and condition monitoring can also boost motivation and habits over time. Instead of simply providing generic information, an app grounded in behavioral science actively shapes adherence conduct in patients’ daily lives.

2. The Impact of Design Thinking

Even the most scientifically sound behavioral interventions will have minimal impact if the patient does not actively engage with the app itself. This is why applying user-centric design thinking is crucial for pharma application development services.

Design thinking prioritizes understanding users’ needs, pain points, and preferences to create solutions that fit seamlessly into their routines. By deeply empathizing with patients through market research, customer segmentation, user testing, and feedback analysis, pharma app developers can craft tailored experiences that resonate.

For instance, through speaking to patients managing diabetes, designers may learn that incorporating blood sugar logging into a breakfast planning app makes more sense for better adoption than stand-alone tracking. Or user studies could indicate that an app helping rheumatoid arthritis patients handle morning joint stiffness should primarily offer medication, exercise, and hot/cold therapy recommendations versus general disease information.

3. Putting it All Together

Applying behavioral science and design thinking creates a powerful framework for improving medication adherence when combined with an interdisciplinary approach. Companies can create optimized, patient-centric adherence solutions by integrating these disciplines throughout the pharma app development process.

It starts with upfront strategic visioning rooted in behavioral science to identify the biggest non-adherence drivers and barriers within a therapeutic area. Behavioral experts translate clinical insights into definable adherence behaviors and map targeted app interventions to modify those behaviors.

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In parallel, design researchers initiate deep patient immersion through surveys, interviews, diaries, and journey mapping to unlock adherence insights from the user perspective. The design team synthesizes findings to craft tailored behavioral solutions and app experiences that fit seamlessly into patients’ lives.

Ongoing integration of both disciplines informs the app’s prioritization of features and interactions. The right blend of science, technology, and experience elements are incorporated to maximize adherence gains by continually re-evaluating through the behavioral science and design thinking lenses.

4. Early Immersion to Ensure Adherence Focus

However, the biggest impacts come from applying behavioral science and design thinking from the earliest phases of application development services for pharma. Too often, medication adherence is treated as an afterthought or add-on feature during the development process. This can result in apps that fail to leverage the full potential to drive better adherence.

A dedicated pharma app development company addresses this by putting adherence at the core of their discovery and strategic visioning work with pharma brands from project kickoff. By framing the app concept around target adherence behaviors and barriers from the start, behavioral science and design research can focus on illumination solutions that embed adherence thinking into the app’s essence. Ongoing prioritization of features and development work remains tied to adherence goals.

This early adherence immersion ensures the final app fundamentally helps patients overcome barriers and establish medication habits, not just offers a digital extension of the brand.

5. Specialized Development for Specialized Apps

Pharmaceutical app development services are vastly complex compared to conventional mobile apps. On top of adherence science and design, developmental success requires expertise across pharmaceutical regulations, healthcare data security, integrations with existing therapy programs, and medical information review processes.

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Most app developers simply don’t have this specialized cross-disciplinary knowledge. A dedicated pharma app development partner who lives and breathes these complexities is crucial for pharmaceutical brands to drive impact and innovation with apps.


Mobilizing medication adherence remains in the early chapters, with significant potential untapped. Pharma apps sit at the intersection of behavioral science, human-centric design, and specialized healthcare app development. When pharmaceutical brands partner with companies equally dominant in these areas, the possibilities to move the needle on adherence grow exponentially.

However, the full promise depends on continued progress across these disciplines. As behavioral scientists further insights into medication adherence motivators and barriers, those learnings must make their way into optimized app interactions. As designers speak to more patients, they will uncover adherence use cases and user experience opportunities not yet imagined. As specialized pharma app developers drive advances in engagement technologies and health data integrations, more avenues will emerge to customize adherence solutions.

Author Bio: Roman Konstantinov is the co-founder of Empeek who brings a breadth of knowledge to build, scale, and transform healthcare organizations. He specializes in revitalizing struggling businesses and turning them into profitable enterprises. By emphasizing automation and effectively navigating the transition from startup to a sustainable and scalable model, Roman drives remarkable transformations to ensure long-term success.

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