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GSK sets to improve antibiotic adherence in the UAE with a new patient-friendly chatbot

GSK sets to improve antibiotic adherence in the UAE with a new patient-friendly chatbot

Sunday, February 10, 2019/ Editor -  

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  • GSK launches Medzy, a new UAE patient-friendly chatbot, aimed at increasing antibiotic adherence 
  • This is in response to a research commissioned by GSK to understand the needs of HCPs and patients on antibiotics and the level of understanding of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) which revealed 54 per cent of UAE residents find it difficult to remember to take antibiotics 
  • Three out of ten people believe they should stop taking antibiotics once they feel better rather than finish their course of treatment
  • According to the World Health Organisation, AMR represents one of the biggest current threats to global health and development
Dubai, 10 February 2019 —
 
The science-led global healthcare company GSK launches Medzy, a UAE-focused chatbot, to help patients use antibiotics more responsibly. This is in response to results of research commissioned by GSK, which revealed significant gaps in antibiotic awareness and best practice amongst patients in the UAE, which could contribute to the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
 
About the research
The research used both qualitative and quantitative insights from doctors, pharmacists and patients in the Emirates, and identified several behaviours and factors which affect patients’ adherence to antibiotic use. Some of the concerning factors, which may be contributing triggers of AMR, include: 
• 54% of people find it difficult to remember to take antibiotics
• Almost three out of ten people believe they should stop taking antibiotics when they feel better, rather than finishing their course as prescribed
• Patients have a tendency to guess the next steps they need to take if they fail to take a dose. Some patients will take a double dose to compensate for a missed dose
• Advice from family, friends and the online community is often considered a key source of reliable information, meaning that patients often self-diagnose first, rather than visit the doctor 
 
In response to these gaps, GSK has developed Medzy, an interactive UAE-centric patient engagement chatbot, implemented through Facebook Messenger. Medzy, which is an abbreviation of “medication made easy”, was brought to life through close collaboration and testing with UAE patients, doctors and pharmacists, whose challenges and needs have played a role in shaping the technology. 
 
The patient-friendly chatbot provides simple-to-understand information including, but not limited to, the below:
• What antibiotics are, when to take them and how they work
• What AMR is, its causes, long terms effects and prevention tips
• How to care for someone who is taking antibiotics
• Reminders for patients to take their medication
• Dosage and treatment length
• Formulation of medication, ingredients and side effects
• Safe disposal and storage
• A way for users to report any side effects.
 
Commenting on the development of Medzy, Sameh Elfangary, General Manager at GSK in the Gulf, said: “As a global leader in the antibiotic space, we are committed to tackling AMR through the promotion of appropriate use of antibiotics. When the data confirmed that almost 30% of UAE patients do not complete their course of antibiotics but also tend to seek advice from family, friends or online over a trained healthcare professional, the need became clear for an informed, patient-friendly solution that people can easily access, understand and incorporate into their daily lives,” Sameh Elfangary explains. “We see Medzy as a personal assistant for patients, dedicated to helping them manage their antibiotic use, offering simple but practical advice that could ultimately help slow down the process of AMR.”
 
Dr Farheen Ali, Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases, added: “As doctors, increasing patient awareness about antibiotic resistance and understanding their role is paramount to us, as is making it as easy as possible for patients to stick to what we prescribe. The research commissioned by GSK validates many of the challenges doctors in the UAE face, and calls for amplified awareness in the form of a helpful intervention, such as Medzy. We look forward to seeing in a year from now how, for those using the digital solution, Medzy has helped raise awareness levels and positively impacted patients’ adherence to prescriptions.” 
 
Antibiotics are viewed as one of the greatest discoveries in human history, as they kill and prevent the growth of bacteria, helping clear infections in patients. However, their misuse is accelerating the process of AMR, wherein certain bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics, resulting in bacterial infections that are difficult to treat. According to the World Health Organisation, AMR represents one of the biggest current threats to global health and development .
 
Medzy is currently available in English and will be launched in Arabic in the near future.

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