From Medication Management to Adherence and Beyond, Pharmacy Technology Is Revolutionizing Healthcare

Medication Management in Pharmacy TechnologyAccording to one recent study, poor medication adherence not only costs the healthcare system in the United States $300 billion in avoidable expenses each year, but it also contributes to a $637 billion annual cost to the global pharmaceutical industry. In an era when around 66% of people in the U.S. take at least one prescription medication, it’s easy to see why concepts like medication management are so essential.

It’s also important to point out that an estimated 50% of people who are on regular medications don’t take the proper dose at the right time. But the burden for compliance doesn’t fall strictly on the patients – the entire industry can help address this issue moving forward.

But what is medication management, exactly? What is the status quo today, and what pharmacy technology innovations might play a role in the shape it takes tomorrow, five years from now, and beyond? The answers to those questions are inherently fascinating, though they do require you to keep a few important things in mind.

Why Is It Important to Know About Medication Management and Adherence?

Understanding not only the best practices regarding medication management but also the trends and technologies that are shaping it is important for a number of different reasons. For starters, medication management helps to cut down on the number of adverse reactions people might have when taking medications – thus reducing hospitalizations and preventing undue stress on our healthcare system. It can also help reduce adverse drug interactions by giving people more accurate information about what substances to avoid when taking specific medications.

The Role IT Plays in Revolutionizing This Field

Advances in information technology have played a significant role in revolutionizing medication management and adherence in recent years. With electronic prescribing, healthcare providers can electronically send prescriptions to pharmacies, eliminating the need for paper prescriptions, reducing errors, and increasing efficiency in the medication management process. Medication management software provides patients with the tools to track their medication schedules, refill prescriptions, and receive reminders to take their medication. This software also allows healthcare providers to monitor medication adherence remotely and adjust treatment plans accordingly.

Mobile health apps and telemedicine have become increasingly popular in recent years, with many designed specifically to include medication management features. Both tools make it easier for patients to access healthcare remotely, track medication use, and communicate with their healthcare providers.

Medication Management and What It Entails

At its core, medication management is exactly what it sounds like – the systems in place to help make sure that both patients and healthcare professionals have access to accurate medications and the strategies that keep this all functioning. Having a comprehensive and accurate list of all medications is critical for any organization, as it helps with both reconciliations and proactively addresses any larger issues that may arise.

Automated Dispensing Systems

Based on the first fill of a verified prescription, future fills can be verified and dispensed automatically. This saves a tremendous amount of time on behalf of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, not to mention helps tremendously with adherence and availability, too.

Medication Therapy Management

Examples of automation like dispensing systems allow pharmacists to devote more time and attention to the clinical aspects of their profession, with medication therapy management being chief among them. They can review and provide counseling to patients in a more effective way, bringing about better outcomes as well.

Electronic Health Records

Over the last few years, electronic health records (EHR) have become an invaluable tool for instantly and securely transmitting patient information from one provider to another. People don’t have to wait days or longer for someone like a pharmacist to get their information. That data is transmitted immediately so that care can begin just as quickly.

What Are the Outcomes of Applying Medication Management and Adherence?

When all the benefits that medication management and adherence offer are applied in the appropriate context, this almost always leads to the biggest benefit of all: improved patient outcomes across the board. This plays out in a few different ways, all of which add up to some truly meaningful examples of innovation that would have been unthinkable even as recently as a decade ago.

It’s estimated that approximately 125,000 premature deaths could be prevented every year by addressing medication non-adherence issues – it was the sixth most common cause of death in the United States in 2014 alone. Addressing that negative outcome would be worth the effort in and of itself, to say nothing of the larger benefits that applying medication management and adherence can bring to the entirety of the healthcare profession.

Improved Accuracy

One study indicated that between 20 to 30 percent of new prescriptions never actually get filled at the pharmacy. Improved accuracy helps patients get better access to the drugs and medications they need, while also helping providers gain a better understanding of both individual patients and of the overall landscape.

Increased Efficiency

Pharmacy technology examples like a Pharmacy Management System (PMS) can increase efficiency in virtually all areas of this environment. Prescription refill requests and drug fulfillment can be carefully monitored in a way that eliminates human error. Payment reconciliation and accounts receivable can be handled largely automatically, increasing the ease of the billing process and the amount of revenue generated. Even staffing and workload management can be overhauled, making sure that professionals are always on-hand exactly when they’re needed, where they’re needed.

Proven Cost Saving

It’s been estimated that pharmacies lose more than $500 million every year on medications that are never picked up. Solving this problem through technology by increasing the accuracy and the efficiency of the process would free up an enormous amount of money that could be better spent elsewhere.

Improved Patient Outcomes

If you needed a single statistic to underline the importance of improving medication management and adherence and the impact it can have on patient outcomes, let it be the fact that at least 10 percent of all hospital admissions are associated with non-adherence. Getting people to take their drugs and medication by changing an inherently complicated process would not only improve their lives – it would relieve an enormous amount of stress from our healthcare system as well.

Future of the Technology

When you consider how far technology in pharmacy environments has come over the last few years, it’s truly exciting to think about what the next few may have in store for us all. How might the trends of today shape the pharmacy of tomorrow?

How AI Is Being Integrated Into Pharmacy Technology

Every day, pharmacies generate massive amounts of data on virtually every patient in their system. Artificial intelligence is being used to make the management of that data easier, as well as one’s ability to derive actionable intelligence from it.

Based on the type of medication someone is on, their past rate of hospitalization, and other factors, AI can be used to predict someone’s risk of medication non-adherence, for example. Data pertaining to someone’s demographic, the amount they pay for medication out-of-pocket, and the number of medications they take can all play a role in whether they take what they are prescribed as directed. If someone is identified, either a pharmacy or their insurance company can reach out to them for additional counseling and education that may be necessary to get them to stick to a strict schedule.

AI-driven algorithms are even being developed that can predict things like treatment outcomes and medication errors based on high-quality historical data from clinical trials and in collaboration with physicians. Many of these algorithms have been developed after machine learning has been applied to literally billions of managed doses. All this goes a tremendously long way toward bringing about better patient outcomes in the future.

How Patient Communication and Education Has Improved

Thanks to pharmacy technology, healthcare providers can now get more specific with their communication and educational efforts than ever. Someone on certain types of medications can get personalized counseling on how to inject medications, for example, or how to address any other application needs they may have. Technological innovations like telehealth can also make it easier to get them access to the care support team members they need to answer questions and address concerns quickly. This can even improve a drug company’s marketing efforts to make certain types of people (or patients in specific locations) aware that potentially life-saving medications exist in the first place.

Carrington College Offers Pharmacy Technology

At Carrington College, we’ve always made it a priority to empower students in fields like pharmacy technology, helping them obtain the real-world skills to thrive in such an important career. Through hands-on classes, access to career services professionals, and more, they’ll be able to develop the expertise to put their passion to good use for the benefit of the healthcare industry in general.

For more information about how pharmacy technology is revolutionizing medication management, adherence, and more, or to get answers about why a Pharmacy  Technology program  might be right for you, contact Carrington College today.

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