'Take as directed' a lot easier with these new tools

August 20, 2007

Companies offer technology that can be used by pharmacists to help improve patient compliance.

Given that patient compliance with drug regimens is a perennial problem, it's no surprise that vendors continue to roll out new technologies designed to beep, text message, or color-code patients along their way to better health.

According to a report released this month from the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE), patients not experiencing acute symptoms are less likely to adhere to their medications. The report added that only 51% of patients with high blood pressure stick with their medications.

"Compliance problems are rampant for reasons that are multitudinous and varied," said Katherine Binns, senior VP of healthcare research at Harris Interactive, a market research firm. "These barriers leading to noncompliance present significant challenges."

Here's a look at some of the latest compliance newbies featuring such cutting-edge technology.

Getting personal

"Servicing the prescription needs of long-term care facilities offers a lucrative business opportunity to pharmacies, but the high labor commitment of traditional compliance packaging often creates a barrier," said Nanette Kirsch, a Parata spokeswoman. "Parata's PACMED is an essential tool that solves that problem, offering significant advantages over blister packaging."

The packaging, which is covered under Medicare MTM as compliance packaging, processes up to 60 unit-dose packages or 50 multi-dose packages per minute and seamlessly aligns inventory with patient demand. Plus, the included Server+ software facilitates multi-tasking and maximum pharmacy productivity, according to Kirsch.

"Custom-printed unit-of-dose pouches ensure that the right patient gets the right medications at the right time, every time," Kirsch said. "Plus, the system reduces inventory costs, since, as class A packages, most unused medications can be returned to stock."

Other perks of the system include the ability to include personalized directions, such as "8 AM" or "breakfast"; the ability to help patients identify when a dose has been missed; or convenient portability of doses.

Electronic compliance

• MeadWestvaco's Cerepak, billed as "electronic compliance packaging," is yet another new product. Cerepak is designed to accurately record the date and time each dose of medication is taken. In addition, sensors in the packaging monitor the specific tablet or tablets being removed by a patient.

The system also enables patient dosing data, as well as any other data collected, to be fed to a personal computer or uploaded to Web-based compliance-analysis software that is maintained by a pharmacy, doctor, or other healthcare professional.

Packaging for Cerepak is available in many formats, including MeadWestvaco's Dosepak packaging, which features an outer carton for ample billboard space, a fold-over blister card, and an attached insert for patient education and prescription directions. Dosepak can also include a micro CD, as well as patient quality-of-life questionnaires, which can request feedback regarding side effects of drugs taken.