Improve medication adherence with smart packaging

According to Gerald Finken, RPh, CEO of RxE2 Inc and 40-year-old veteran pharmacist, technology-driven drug packaging is a tangible reminder for patients to take their drugs as prescribed.

“Plus, health plans, prescribers and pharmacies are held accountable with quality adherence-driven metrics. [such as proportion of days covered and medication possession ratio], and pharmacists can use packaging to improve these quality measures, ”said Finken.

Joann Seigel, RPh, vice president of pharmaceutical services for Masonic Villages in Elizabethtown, Pa., Noted that with automated packaging technology, pharmacists can confidently handle increased volume in the pharmacy without increasing errors.

“It allows you to manage a volume that you could never manage manually,” she said. “Smart technologies are streamlining the medical packaging process.

For the pharmacist, smart technology ensures that all of a patient’s medications are synchronized and billed at the same time, explained Donald Brindisi, RPh, pharmacy director at Masonic Villages.

“It avoids the headaches associated with the fear that a patient will take their medications as prescribed,” he said. “Without the technology, it would be nearly impossible to effectively support a patient who might have more than 10 drugs in a single blister pack. We feel a lot more confident thanks to our automation.

Thomas E. Hanzel, PharmD, MBA, national vice president of long-term care / nutraceuticals at Parata Systems in Durham, NC, said pharmacies are starting to be held accountable and, to some extent, rewarded for improving compliance.

“The right technology can provide customizable adhesion packaging that is flexible enough to be adopted by all types of customers and therefore improve medication management,” he said. “Pharmacists can verify compliance because the customer receives a notification in a cyclical schedule format where medications are automatically refilled. This can be on a weekly, monthly, or whatever cycle is best for the client, reducing the risk of missing a dose.

Sapna Patel, RPh, director of clinical services at Mosaic Pharmacy Service in Sterling, Va., Explained that previously pharmacists had to spend a lot of time manually counting, filling and labeling medications. By automating these tasks, pharmacists have more time to interact with patients, including counseling patients about harmful drug interactions, educating patients about medical conditions, and reiterating the importance of staying true. to their medications.

“Pharmacy automation has also reduced medication errors made by pharmacists,” Patel said. “Many automation systems have a pill verification system that increases patient safety while reducing human error. “

Therefore, adherence packaging services can increase a patient’s confidence in managing their medications and improve their overall health by helping them take their medications as prescribed.

To start

If a pharmacy does not currently offer an adherence program, it is usually due to a lack of effective technology. To start a membership program, it can be helpful to have demo or introductory meetings with provider offices, discharge planners, short-term rehabilitation centers and insurance companies, said Seigel.

“Involving key players from the start to demonstrate the value of engagement in your membership program is a great way to start these partnerships,” she said. “Compliant packaging usually comes first and is then supported by the introduction of automation in the pharmacy.”

It will also depend on its clientele. For example, while smart cards are ideal for retail and behavioral health facilities, they are not as ideal for long-term care facilities.

“Knowing what patient populations you are looking to support will dramatically change the type of membership program and the way it is implemented,” said Seigel.

More and more elderly people are staying at home rather than going to retirement homes. A recent article in the the Wall Street newspaper reported a 15% drop in nursing home occupancy since 2019, mainly due to concerns related to the COVID-19.1 pandemic Seniors who live alone may need additional support from their health care providers regarding medication adherence.

“Compliant packaging has enabled pharmacists to help better manage patients’ medications by spending less time filling them and more time managing their overall health,” Patel said.

For example, Patel cited a recent case study of a 70-year-old man taking 25 drugs. The patient has an extensive medical history, which includes diabetes, hypertension, overactive bladder, hyperlipidemia, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and neuropathy. He lives alone and has trouble remembering to take some of his medications. He became non-adherent due to the cost and overload of drugs.

“Mosaic Pharmacy Service is built on a comprehensive care model that includes filling medications into adherence packages to help our medically complex patients stay adherent to multiple medications,” she explained. “I switched this patient to more cost-effective medications organized by date and time of dose in the adherence package, which helped simplify his routine and ultimately made it easier to maintain adherence. “

COVID-19 has disrupted the daily processes and routines of many patients, leading to problems with medication adherence. Pharmacists have had to implement strategies to help their patients stay adherent despite a variety of logistical challenges; this includes services such as curbside pickup, door-to-door delivery, and of course, adhesion packaging.

“[COVID-19] allowed pharmacists to see the importance of adhesion packaging in helping to manage patient drug regimens, ”Patel said. “Synchronizing all of their medications so that they are refilled once a month allows for better adherence and more time for pharmacists to focus on helping patients manage their chronic illnesses.

Who benefits the most?

Adherence wrap is good for any patient who manages multiple chronic conditions that require them to take medication multiple times a day. It’s also good for patients who have a caregiver who helps them manage their medications, as the adhesive wrap makes it easy to see if the medications were taken on time.

The patients most likely to benefit from adherence packaging are those whose caregivers may be far too busy to manage family members’ medications.

“Home health agencies really value compliance packaging for their facilities,” Seigel said. “Patients who may be far removed from loved ones or a power of attorney can more easily rest knowing their medications are being managed safely, providing peace of mind for both the patient and those responsible for the care. his care. “

The elderly population is also at high risk for nonadherence, which is why Patel believes that seniors who take 5 or more medications would benefit the most from adherence packaging.

“A recent report released by the Lown Institute indicates that older people taking 5 or more drugs are 88% more likely to seek care for an adverse drug reaction than those taking 1 or 2 drugs,” she said. . “More and more seniors want to age [their own] in law. The adhesion wrap allows them to remain independent and adhere to their drug regimen.

There are also a lot of advantages for pharmacists. Automation allows them to better manage the workflow, produce more cards and serve a much larger customer base.

“This dramatically reduces stress for pharmacists, which inherently reduces burnout,” said Brindisi. “Because every step of the process is bar coded, it makes sure that the processes are reliable and that the patients are in good hands. “

In addition, it allows pharmacists to work with patients to reduce their overall medical expenses and ensure the best possible treatment plan.

“The shift from simple drug delivery to holistic patient care leads to better clinical outcomes,” Patel said.

The packaging of the adhesion pouches also increases the number of prescriptions and results in fewer audits, lower direct and indirect compensation costs and higher reimbursement.

“The adhesion technology reduces the risk of medication errors and increases efficiency, providing a high level of confidence to the pharmacist,” said Hanzel. “Automation also frees up time for pharmacists and allows them to use their unique breadth and depth as experts who can then focus primarily on the patient. As a pharmacist, any way they can improve adherence [improve outcomes and, ultimately, reduce] the total cost of health care.


  1. Mathews AW, McGinty T. Covid urges families to avoid nursing homes, a change that appears to be long lasting. The Wall Street Journal. Updated December 21, 2020. Accessed May 3, 2021.

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