Three pharmacies are finding that dispensing medications in blister packs is helping patients adhere to complicated drug regimens, which leads to improved outcomes and decreased costs to the health-care system.
The SureMed System from Omnicell Inc. helps patients organize multiple medications in an easy-to-follow format that gives patients visual reinforcement of what drugs to take and when to take them. The blister pack, which looks like a booklet, is perforated, so patients can remove a page after they’ve completed a day’s drug regimen. The program also provides opportunities for co-branding; pharmacies can add their logo to the front of the SureMed cards to raise their brand visibility.
“Retail pharmacies are under the crunch, fighting for survival,” said Alec Gillies, Pharmacy Manager at Buffalo Pharmacies, which operates three pharmacies in Western New York. “With decreased reimbursement and mail order [taking business away from pharmacies], we have to adapt … and look for a better way to survive. We have to find new ways to reinvent ourselves and gain new populations of patients,” while focusing on the wellbeing of patients and improving outcomes.
In the Pittsburgh area, the ACORx (Adherence and Compliance Optimized) Pharmacy has taken the concept of adherence with blister packs to a new level. It is the third in the Hometown Pharmacy chain that includes two pharmacies that operate within groceries. But ACORx is dedicated to packaging and distributing medications through SureMed and has no in-store patient traffic.
“We decided we wanted to build a business model around compliance packaging,” said owner Shawn Nairn, RPh. The pharmacy serves a population that is predominantly elderly, and its goal is to “improve the patient’s potential to stay at home.”
“One of the first steps to moving an elderly person to nursing home care is the inability to manage meds,” Nairn explained. “We also aim to reduce hospital readmissions, which usually occur within 30 days of discharge.”
At any given time, ACORx is packaging medications for around 1,000 patients. Most of the referrals come from home health-care agencies, hospitals, and nursing homes. All patients receive their medications through home delivery.
“We get compliments from caregivers thanking us for organizing their parents’ meds,” said Nairn. Now, when these children visit an elderly parent, they can spend quality time, rather than having to worry about their parents’ prescriptions.
Up next: The impact the packs are having