99DOTS: Using Mobile Phones to Monitor and Improve Adherence to Tuberculosis Medications
Bill Thies and the team of 99DOTS aim to achieve 99% TB drug adherence using a combination of basic mobile phones and augmented blister packaging to provide real-time medication monitoring at drastically reduced cost. The approach is to utilize a custom envelope, or blister card, into which each pack of medication is inserted and sealed by the care provider. When the patient dispenses medication from the blister pack, the pills also break through perforated flaps on the blister card. On the back side of each flap is a hidden number. Patients submit these numbers using their mobile phone as evidence that they have dispensed medication. To avoid incurring any mobile charges, the numbers are used to complete a phone number and deliver a "Missed call" (Missed calls are free if they are not pointed to a VoiceMail). Using this system patients also receive a series of daily reminders (via SMS and automated calls). Missed doses trigger SMS notifications to care providers, who follow up with personal, phone-based counseling. Real-time adherence reports are also made available on the web.