July 9, 2014
Dr. Farris and her team have been the recipient of MCubed and MICHR funding for this research. Pictured front row: Peter Batra, Karen Farris, Satinder Singh. Pictured back row: Sean Newman, John Piette, Larry An.

Dr. Karen Farris, Charles R. Walgreen III Professor of Pharmacy Administration, received funding in April 2014 from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality for an innovative text messaging research project. This team-based project combines artificial intelligence programming with messages developed by expert health communicators in a text messaging system created to improve medication use among individuals using hypertensive medications.

Dr. Farris and her team have been the recipient of MCubed and MICHR funding for this research and over the last few years she has collaborated with these interdisciplinary researchers to expand the understanding of and improve health behaviors through the study of medication use.  

“We are sending tailored health messages to individuals about their medications,” explains Dr. Farris. “Any group today can send text messages. This is a significant advance beyond sending messages that say ‘take your medicine’ or ‘remember to take your medicine’.”

This unique research team brings together quantitative and computational sciences to develop innovative closed loop systems that monitor continuous feedback and provide adaptive interventions to change health behaviors.

Dr. Farris serves as lead investigator and provides scientific expertise related to factors affecting medication adherence and its measurement. Dr. Satinder Baveja, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the College of Engineering, oversees the development of the Reinforcement Learning algorithm. Dr. John Piette, Professor of Internal Medicine at the Medical School and Professor of Health Behavior and Health Education at the School of Public Health, provides expertise in how technology can be used by individuals and their caregivers to improve health. Dr. Lawrence An, Associate Professor in Internal Medicine at the Medical School, shares his extensive experience in developing tailored messaging for the different reasons for medication non-adherence. 

This team has also been funded by the Department of Education in the University of Michigan’s Rehabilitation Engineering and Research Center to develop technologic support for medication management among individuals with neurodevelopmental conditions. In this work, Dr. Steve Erickson, Associate Professor of Social and Administrative Sciences at the College of Pharmacy, joins the team to bring his expertise about medication use among individuals with disabilities.

“Karen is a leading researcher in medication management and adherence, with over 20 years of work in this field. In addition, she’s a graduate of our PhD program,” concludes Dean Frank Ascione, “and her return to U-M and ability to build and lead collaborations establishes the College of Pharmacy as a model program in medication usage. This project is an excellent example of the type of research we encourage: translational, multidisciplinary with results that are likely to have a direct impact on healthcare.”

Learn More:

Dr. Karen Farris Presents at MCubed Symposium
Department of Clinical Pharmacy (CP)
Clinical Pharmacy Research