12 Sep
Chronicity Health Innovation Personalisation

Improving patients’ adherence to treatment: our challenge in the Hackathon with Pharmacy and Nutrition students at the University of Navarra

This year, Cinfa has had the honour of collaborating with the University of Navarra in the opening of the new school year. From our open innovation platform, CinfaNext, we launched a challenge at the Hackathon that welcomed first year students on their first day at the University. Consequently, the aim of this express innovation competition was to find new ideas to improve patients’ adherence to therapeutic treatments and nutritional indications, an aspect that Cinfa tries to promote with different services, since it is a key factor in patients’ wellbeing. An ambitious challenge in which a total of 180 students from the university’s Degree in Pharmacy and Nutrition took part.

The challenge: how to improve adherence to treatment for patients who often do not follow the recommended guidelines correctly.

The hackathon aimed to find the widest possible range of adherence solutions from the perspective of different actors in the health sector, such as the pharmaceutical industry itself, the health system, community pharmacy and even from the patient’s point of view.

The focus could be on one or several pathologies, certain age groups or different patient profiles, and the aim was for all students to use different tools for action, which could range from digitalisation, care and health services, to improved treatments or new forms of pharmaceuticals. During the competition, the students carried out a phased innovation methodology in order to solve the challenge. Firstly, they translated the drawback of non-adherence into a concrete everyday problem for which a solution could be found. Once they had identified the specific problem, they started an ideation and brainstorming process to propose different solutions and, among all of them, they selected the most feasible idea by evaluating its level of innovation and effectiveness.

They then had to develop and generate a small prototype of this idea, which they validated both with experts and patients. In addition, throughout the process, the students had the support of professors from the Faculty of Pharmacy and Nutrition, professionals from the University of Navarra’s bio sanitary faculties and experts in innovation, who accompanied and advised them at all times.

Finally, five teams carried out a public presentation of the project before a jury of experts from Cinfa, Innovation Factory and the Faculty of Pharmacy and Nutrition of the University of Navarra.


The winning team was “Ideally Graduated”, formed by Pablo Chacón, Alicia Martínez, Itsaso Blasquiz, Mikel Jimenez, Tania Zamora and Camille Reguero. The group brought forward of a proposal of a virtual reality simulator that shows users the consequences they will suffer if they do not adhere correctly to their treatments. The web application also offers a personalised solution and a health accompaniment to make the patient aware of the negative effects this would have on their health.

How much do you know about adherence to treatment?

Increased longevity, coupled with more effective medical and pharmacological treatments, means that more and more people are living with chronic diseases for years. 

According to the Platform of Patients’ Organisations (POP), chronic diseases in Spain currently account for 80% of primary care consultations, 60% of hospitalisations and 80% of health expenditure. Concerning this, primary care is the first link to improve the lives of these people: from diagnosis to proper patient education to involve them in the management of their disease and the importance of self-care. The reason? Not only do these chronic pathologies not improve over time, but they tend to worsen if the necessary follow-up is neglected. The role of the pharmacist, as a close and accessible professional, is also a key agent in helping to better monitor and manage their illness and treatment. 

Adherence is one of the main determinants of treatment effectiveness. For a patient to be considered adherent to their treatment, four conditions must be met: not forgetting to take the medication, following the recommended dietary guidelines, taking the medication at the prescribed times and not stopping the medication, even if there is an improvement. 

Currently, it is estimated that 50% of patients in Spain do not adhere correctly to the prescribed regimen, although the rate may vary depending on the pathology, age group and other factors. This is why we must continue to work together, and through new forms of collaboration, such as open innovation, to ensure that this percentage decreases and that patients achieve adequate adherence, both to their treatments and to the dietary guidelines indicated; something that will have a significant impact on their effectiveness and, therefore, on improving their pathology and their quality of life.