Medical Compliance Packaging
By Myron Higel
Bates Pharmacy and Medical Supply
Are you or a loved one at risk of confusing or forgetting the amounts of medications to be taken?
If you consider the process of obtaining medications, it might appear to be simple. For example, a doctor gives his or her patient a prescription for an antibiotic and the patient takes it to a pharmacy to be filled. After filling the prescription, the pharmacist instructs the patient that the medication needs to be taken three times per day for three days and to be sure to take all of the pills.
But using this situation, do you know how many people will actually take all of the prescribed medication for the entire three days?
Less than 50%. Now imagine a person with multiple medical conditions taking three, four, five or even as many as nineteen different medications at different times of the day for the rest of his or her life.
A pharmacist's primary responsibility is to instruct a patient on the importance of being compliant in taking medications.
Compliance is defined as taking the correct medication at the correct time without missing or taking extra doses. When a person is "non-compliant" with their medication, a number of problems can occur. For instance, missing a few days of a medication for hypertension may increase blood pressure resulting in a stroke. Not finishing a course of antibiotics may result in an infection that requires stronger, more expensive antibiotics. Accidentally taking extra doses of blood thinners may result in internal bleeding.
The cost of non-compliance is extraordinarily high.
Did you know that an estimated 10-25% of all hospital and nursing home admissions are due to non-compliance? This translates into an annual cost of more than 30 billion dollars a year. Not only can non-compliance rob a person of their independence, it can put a heavy financial burden on family members should their loved one be admitted to a nursing home or assisted living facility.
The Wisdom of Packaging
What can be done to improve compliance?
Some pharmacies dispense medications in compliance packages.
Drugs are put either in blister packs (a monthly card where their pills are placed in bubbles that are punched out for each dose),
or in multi-dose medication boxes (containers that have drugs organized by the time of day for the entire week).
Compliance packaging achieves several things. A patient doesn't have to sort through a cabinet full of pill bottles; there is a visual record of whether or not a medication has been taken ("Did I take my high blood pressure pill this morning?").
Packaging also helps separate drugs that should not be taken together; insures drugs are taken at a consistent time each day (this is especially important for blood thinning drugs), and is a convenient way to travel with medication.
In addition, customers receiving compliance packaging are offered other convenient benefits that will help with compliance.
Medications are delivered directly to a person's home on weekly or monthly schedules. Customers do not have to call the pharmacy for refills but rather the pharmacy's computer system automatically runs the refills; any changes in a person's medication can be sent out the same day in a new container. Here, direct communication with physicians is maintained regarding medication regimens and potential drug interactions.
Most pharmacists report they witness examples of non-compliance on a daily basis. Consumers who choose an outlet offering compliance packaging and take advantage of this service enhance their potential for healing or maintaining health as long as possible.
As a simple, no-cost method for people to get the maximum benefit from their medications, compliance packaging can be a blessing to both the consumer and their family.
To further explore this topic, please contact us at 489-4500 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.