Global Health Ideas

Finding global health solutions through innovation and technology

Improved patient drug compliance using SMS

This idea has been mentioned a lot, but I just ran across Computainer on a Uganda listserv.  CompuTainer recently announced SIMmed at the 3rd South African AIDS Conference. The technology uses SMS and USSD messaging to track and monitor patient compliance in taking chronic medication such as TB medication, ARV medication, Diabetic medication, Cardio medication and other chronic medication.

With 47% of patients simply forgetting to take medication and a further 33% not taking medication because they feel well we find an issue in medication compliance. With the ongoing struggle against drug resistant strains the introduction of SIMmed has resolved compliance issues.

I don’t have a copy of the report, but according to the listserv posting, in a recently completed trial in TB clinics in South Africa the compliance ratios were raised from between 20% and 60% to a staggering 85% to 93%. Cure rates were raised from a dismal 65% to above 91%.

The info on the SIMpill is copied here:

A pill bottle which, when opened, delivers an SMS text message to a central server. The SMS contains a unique pill box ID number as well as some information about the battery status of the pill box. Each SMS is time stamped. The central server receives the incoming SMS and, if it is within the time tolerances set for the pill box sending the message is simply stored for statistical purposes.

Written by Ben

June 22, 2007 at 6:15 am

4 Responses

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  1. Should anyone want a copy of the pilot results please send an email to me at with the word compliance in the subject and I will dispatch same to you. Regards, Mark Van der Merwe, Managing Director, CompuTainer Pty Ltd

    Mark Van der Merwe

    July 8, 2007 at 12:50 am

  2. Another company working in compliance here in the US is Health Honors…

    recently, MIT launched a challenge to improve TB compliance among poor patients. The pill box idea came up again in a team called Cabanga.

    My own team, New Dots, is launching 3 pilots in Nicaragua, Tanzania, and Indonesia this fall. Cell phones are part of the equation, but not the core solution…smoke signals also work. I’ll have to blog about prior to launch!


    June 23, 2007 at 9:50 pm

  3. […] Ben at Technology, Health & Development points out a device that’s been reported to raise medication compliance rates dramatically. […]

  4. Ben – this is a nice find indeed. A red flag went up in my mind when I saw the eye popping 85-93% compliance rates and also the associated cure rate which does not correspond linearly with compliance. I am wondering if this kind of rate is sustained over time or if much like an alarm people might start hitting the “snooze” button.

    I am researching compliance rates right now in a diabetic population and am finding that even though this seems like a simple concept, the calculation can be somewhat tricky. If the SIMmed numbers are indeed correct and sustainable, this would be truly amazing.


    June 22, 2007 at 8:56 am

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