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Innovations in diabetes care

Tech in health care

Tech in health careStudents and professor research the effects of medication management app

Although they haven’t yet graduated, three Drake pharmacy students are already involved in potentially game-changing diabetes research.

Hayley Vance, Alex Hendzel, and Nicole Quandt are part of a study evaluating the success of MedSimple, a mobile application that aims to help patients with diabetes track and manage their medications.

Andrea Kjos, assistant professor of social and administrative pharmacy, became involved with the development of MedSimple in the spring of 2010 alongside local endocrinologist, Anuj Bhargava, and My Diabetes Home, LLC. Since the app was released last fall and became available for downloading, Kjos has been working to evaluate whether or not it is making a difference in the lives of diabetes patients.

“There’s an app for everything. It seems like healthcare is missing an opportunity if they don’t get involved with this technology,” Kjos says. “We need research right now to make sure the apps are actually helping patients.”

From start to finish

Drake students have contributed to the research process every step of the way, working to find participants and track information.

“I started with this project in September, and my main role was to recruit patients for our study,” Quandt says. “I spent a few hours every week at a clinic informing patients about our new program and what is has to offer.”

The research work could have a long-lasting impact in the field of diabetes treatment.

“Health care professionals ask patients with diabetes to do a lot to take care of themselves … so anything that has the potential to make these patients’ lives a little bit easier is a great thing,” Vance says. “That’s the main reason I was interested in helping with the research.”

A competitive edge

Beyond helping diabetes patients better manage their care, the study provides beneficial skills for Drake pharmacy students.

“It is valuable for students to be part of the process, from start to finish, to see how much work goes into a clinical type of research project,” Kjos says.

Students are aware of the unique value of their research experience.

“I absolutely love doing research at Drake University, and it is so easy to get involved and get great experiences,” Hendzel says.

As they move into pharmacy professions, students will continue to draw on their involvement with the study.

“I am planning on applying for a residency after I finish the Pharm.D./M.P.A. program,” Hendzel says. “Residencies are very competitive nowadays, and I believe that my research experience will definitely make me stand out as a candidate.”

—Abbey Barrow, Class of 2015