What is it about?

Electronic medication monitoring, also known as electronic adherence monitoring (EAM), is increasingly being used to improve medication taking and health outcomes. Whether this actually works to improve medication taking and improve health outcomes, and how acceptable this is to patients, is not known. To answer this, we systematically pooled together data from all the randomized controlled studies that have ever used EAM to promote medication taking. This included data from 47 studies and 6,194 patients of all ages and across all long-term health conditions. Using a method called meta-analysis, we were then able to quantify whether or not EAM is beneficial for medication taking and health outcomes. We found that people who used EAM had significantly better medication-taking than those who did not use EAM, but only when a reminder and /or health provider support was used with the monitoring. EAM had some benefits for health outcomes but this was not significant. Patient acceptability of EAM was also a mix of both positive and negative opinions.

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Why is it important?

Digital health interventions are increasingly being used to improve healthcare. Electronic medication monitoring is one way that many researchers have used to improve medication taking. Our study summarises all the randomised controlled studies that have been done on electronic medication monitoring across all long-term conditions and found that electronic medication monitoring can have significant effects on adherence and possibly health outcomes. Health providers and policymakers should consider the incorporation of electronic medication monitoring as part of routine healthcare.


It has been over 30 years since the first electronic medication monitor was first used in a clinical trial. There have been many studies that have shown that electronic medication monitoring can have very important benefits for improving medication taking (adherence) with some downstream benefits for health outcomes too. With so much data supporting the use of electronic medication monitoring, I believe governments and policymakers should seriously consider making electronic medication monitoring a part of routine healthcare delivery and increasing accessibility for the public.

Amy Chan
University of Auckland

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Effect of electronic adherence monitoring on adherence and outcomes in chronic conditions: A systematic review and meta-analysis, PLoS ONE, March 2022, PLOS,
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0265715.
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