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Tech cos. put adherence solutions front and center


With medication nonadherence estimated to cost the U.S. healthcare system anywhere between $100 billion and $300 billion dollars, according to the National Institutes of Health, pharmacy technology companies are looking to create tools that pharmacists can implement to help patients be more adherent, saving the health system money and improving patient health in the process.

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One of the primary ways that pharmacies have sought to impact adherence is through medication synchronization programs, which are aimed at helping pharmacies move toward an appointment-based dispensing model, enabling pharmacists to discuss adherence and such pharmacy clinical services as medication therapy management and vaccinations — and allowing patients a convenient way to get all of their medications at once. According to research from the National Community Pharmacists Association, patients who opt-in to a med sync program average more than 100 extra days on therapy annually, and are 30% more likely to be adherent.

Among the medication synchronization programs for pharmacies is Ateb’s Time My Meds, which marked an important progress marker this summer. On Aug. 5, Ateb announced that the program, using such chains as Fred’s and Publix, was being used by pharmacy partners to actively manage more than 1 million patients’ medications every month.

“We are extremely proud of our collaborative efforts to attain this industry milestone that demonstrates how pharmacy’s commitment and reach can successfully impact patient health,” Ateb president and CEO Frank Sheppard said. “We look forward to working with our current and future pharmacy partners as we continue to grow and leverage this intuitive system that allows our partners to effectively, efficiently and easily manage this volume of patients in order to deliver even more accessible and affordable health care.”

And as Ateb celebrates the number of patients having their medication managed, Omnicell is rolling out a solution that allows pharmacies to provide patients with packaging that can increase adherence using multiple-medication blister cards.

Launched in March, Omnicell’s SureMed Guided Packing software walks users through the process of filling the cards. The process includes a bar-coded workflow that can enhance accuracy when dispensing, and a visual fill matrix that shows medication placement information. Currently, it integrates with QS/1’s pharmacy information system, and Omnicell plans to support new PIS integration every quarter.

“One of the biggest buzzwords right now in pharmacy is improved compliance — can we improve outcomes with patients and reduce expenses to the system if we improve outcomes from the pharmacy side?” said Shawn Nairn, pharmacist and owner of Pittsburgh-based Hometown Pharmacy, which uses SureMed. “The SureMed Guided Packing software sets up a pharmacy to be able to play in that space.”

Beyond providing the opportunity, it offers to make an impact on patient compliance by providing the packaging — which pharmacies can co-brand to include their logo on the front — Nairn said that using SureMed has made offering clinical services less daunting.

“Where pharmacy is going to survive is in its ability to improve outcomes — through MTM, our ability to have collaborative agreements with physicians and the compliance packaging that gives patients an opportunity to improve adherence,” Nairn said. “It’s a timely product because that’s exactly where pharmacy is going.”

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