Patient Adherence Technology

By Lisa Faast, PharmD

Technology has you wrapped around her pretty little finger with her sights on holding you even tighter. Technology can wake us up in the morning, give us our news, keep us in touch with our loved ones and keep us entertained. Technology in pharmacy has been growing by leaps and bounds, from phone systems to automated counting devices. These also usually come with a steep price tag. But there is one piece of technology that will help increase your bottom line, is easy to implement and will be loved by your patients. That is patient adherence technology. In my pharmacy, Faast Pharmacy, we implemented this technology almost a year ago and love it.

I believe we all agree as pharmacists that patient adherence needs to be desperately improved. For my patients, reasons for non-adherence range from misunderstanding, forgetfulness, side effects or “feeling too good” (no symptoms). Good counseling can help with some of these, but it will not help with forgetfulness in our patients’ busy lives. We can use technology to reach out and gently remind our patients to take their medications as prescribed by their doctor. In 2010, 85 percent of adults in the United States used a cell phone daily, and it is even higher when land lines are included. The availability and high usage of this communication technology makes it a perfect access point to help our patients remember to take their medications.

No pharmacy with today’s small margins and high volume has the extra personnel or time to call every patient, every day for every dose to be taken. This is where wonderful technology comes into play. There are programs available at little to no cost that will automate reminder calls to your patients. Contacting your patient is not limited to a call; it can also be by text or email. There is even an ‘app for that.’ Your patient just fills out the required paperwork and an employee inputs it into the system of your choice and just like that your patients get reminded about every dose they need to take at the proper time.

The effects of implementing an adherence program in your pharmacy can be profound for both your pharmacy and your patient along with the overall health care system. You will see your sales go up as you fill the previously ‘forgotten’ prescriptions, and your patient’s health will respond.

Reprinted with permission from National Community Pharmacists Association in the March 2011 issue of America’s Pharmacist. For more information about NCPA, visit www.ncpanet.org.

For a couple weeks, we’ve been posting articles produced and distributed by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) that should be used to train and prepare pharmacists for teaching their patients about proper adherence to medications. We hope these articles are helpful as more are coming!

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