Pharmacies can play a critical role in improving patient adherence by the use of enhanced packaging and tracking of patient medications.
Pharmacies are adopting new packaging solutions to stand out from the competition and combat one of the industry's most daunting challenges: adherence.
According to the American Heart Association, it has been estimated that three out of four Americans do not take their medications as prescribed. Nonadherence can have a costly impact on the American healthcare system and has been said by the American Heart Association to cost nearly $300 billion a year in extra hospital stays, doctor visits or trips to the emergency room.
Pharmacies can play a critical role in improving patient adherence by enhancing the way they package and track patient medications-particularly for those patients taking multiple, daily medications. By adopting effective strategies that promote convenience, reduce confusion, and improve adherence, pharmacies can distinguish themselves from their competition and demonstrate the valuable ally they can become for doctors and hospitals across the country.
Buffalo Pharmacies in Buffalo, NY, has recently started using the SureMed multimed adherence blister cards by Omnicell to improve patient adherence and create a better process for patients taking multiple medications.
Alec Gillies, the general manager of Buffalo Pharmacies in Buffalo, NY, said the pharmacy chose the blister cards after researching its options. Gillies said he believes the multi-dose packaging card was the most complete option that would also help distinguish his pharmacy from others in the area.
"If you put this multi-dose packaging card up against any other multi-dose packaging card, this one has got the better presentation," he said. "It's got better information, it's clear, it's concise, and I think it stands out. So, if you are trying to grow your business, you want your product to stand out. This card, I think, does that."
The SureMed blister cards used by the pharmacy are perforated and clearly marked with the day and dosage time, so that individual perforated cards can be removed allowing patients to just take one dose of pills with them if they are going out for a few hours or offering greater flexibility for caregivers, who may not want patients having access to multiple days or doses of medication.
The blister cards work in conjunction with Guided Packing software, a cloud-based solution, that is designed to improve the accuracy of hand packaging. It also provides a consolidated label with patient-specific information, color images of the drugs, and dosing instructions on each individual perforated blister card.
Gillies said the pharmacy began using the blister cards about 10 months ago, first targeting those patients with the most number of daily medications.
When marketing the process to doctors, Gillies said they will often ask the physician for their most difficult patient.
"My target is five to six medications minimum to get them on this," Gillies said of his marketing efforts to physicians.
The pharmacy has also begun to market to its retail customers and plans to expand its efforts in this area in the years ahead.
Gillies estimates that they are adding or converting at least five people a week or so to the innovative packaging.
Incorporating the SureMed cards and Guided packaging software into everyday operations has meant a shift in workflow, but the software system incorporates into the pharmacy's existing QS1 pharmacy information system.
Those at the pharmacy say while it's required some additional training and time to fill the blister cards, it's been a smooth transition.
"It's integrated very well, so we have a calendar that we put people on, we make sure their refills are there and then we contact the doctor a week before we fill them just to make there's no changes," said Michael Otterson, PharmD, supervising pharmacist at the pharmacy. "I don't feel as if it has impacted the workflow that much."
Jill Sederstrom is a freelance writer based in Kansas City.