Pharmacy tech

The pharmaceutical industry is changing. Changes such as value-based reimbursement, physician shortage, demand for better patient outcomes, rising cost of prescription drugs and the increase in diagnosis of chronic diseases is forcing these changes to occur. It is estimated that three out of four Americans don’t always take their medication properly, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). “Poor medication adherence takes the lives of 125,000 Americans annually and costs the healthcare system nearly $300 billion a year in additional doctor visits, emergency department visits and hospitalizations,” AHA says.

Effective medication reconciliation includes how and when the patient takes their medications, dosages, indications, prescribers and missed doses. Using technology such as QR codes, smart pill bottles, indigestible pill sensors, and mobile apps, pharmacists are better able to assist their patients with medication adherence. “We’re able to provide a better patient experience by giving individuals access to online medical guides, and demonstrations of what a drug or medical device looks like, [along with] easy to follow instructions for how to accurately use it,” states Eric Russo, Vice President at a Florida-based Hobbs Pharmacy. By scanning the QR code on the prescription packaging, or providing customers with a dedicated website, Russo’s patients can quickly and conveniently access thousands of medication-specific usage videos and potential side-effect information in a MedsOnCue library.

Technology certainly helps aid in medication adherence, however, it will not solve the problem alone. Communication and education vital between the provider and patient, regardless of modality.

Former US Surgeon General C. Everett Coop is quoted as saying “Drugs don’t work in patients who don’t take them.” Jayme Steig, PharmD, RPh; Quality Improvement Program Manager for the Great Plains Quality Innovation Network states, “I like to take that quote one step further and say ‘Drugs don’t work in patients who don’t take them CORRECTLY.’ This is especially true with high risk medications such as anticoagulants, diabetic medications and opioids. A combination of tools including patient education, activation, and technology aids can be applied to improve medication adherence and outcomes.”

Great Plains QIN is partnering with communities throughout the region to unite stakeholders, consumers, pharmacists and healthcare providers to improve communication and care coordination – resulting in reduced hospital admissions, readmissions and medication harm. Visit our Web site to learn more and get involved through our Learning and Action Network.