There are five rights in medication management: right drug, right route, right time, right dose, and right patient.
These five principles, also known as the “5Rs,” are taught to health care providers to reduce the risk of medication errors. However, as patients facing chronic illnesses begin to get better, they can face challenges as the care they receive starts to change.
This change – the transition of care – can be a significant cause of medication management errors and may cause patients negative health outcomes while creating stress for their caregivers. In fact, most medication errors stem from a lack of effective communication between health care providers during these transitions of care – sometimes leading patients right back to where they started.
Consider that the population in the U.S. is an aging one. By 2030, one in five Americans will be 65 or older. That aging population creates different needs in healthcare than we have seen in the past.
It is estimated that 90% of people over the age of 65 experience one or more complex chronic illnesses and diseases. such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, depression, or hypertension1. These complex or chronic conditions require patients to take multiple medications with multiple dosing schedules, instructions, and potential side effects, often referred to as polypharmacy (simultaneous use of five or more medications2).
Managing these medications, or simply coordinating with providers, can be overwhelming and confusing for patients, leading to adverse effects and interactions. Even worse, patients who are experiencing confusion or frustration around their medications often just stop taking them without notifying their providers. The result of poor medication management leads to hospital readmission. In fact, a recent study by NIH showed that 21% of readmission to hospitals within the first 30 days of discharge are due to poor medication management and more specifically polypharmacy3. In addition, it is estimated that about half of medications prescribed for chronic conditions are not taken as directed4.
Medication non-adherence caused by forgetting and delays has serious health implications and can cause substantial expense to patients, healthcare providers, and insurance companies5. As former US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop observed, “drugs don’t work in patients that don’t take them.” It is estimated that half of patients with a chronic disease struggle significantly with medication adherence.
Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), in particular, are challenged daily to reduce their number of medication-related incidents for improved safety, quality, and reimbursement rates. A 2011 study by OIG showed 32% of Medicare beneficiaries in skilled nursing facilities experienced adverse drug reactions and interactions due to medication. It was found that 59% of those adverse events were preventable6.
Many solutions to these challenges have been proposed. One of the best is Personalized Medication Management combined with medication pouch packaging.
Personalized Medication Management and medication pouch packaging ensure accuracy, saves associate time, and improve care outcomes. Treating the patient holistically, a licensed pharmacist consistently evaluates a patient’s complement of medications considering their unique conditions and health history. The medications are then delivered in dose-specific, easy-to-manage pouch packaging.
Pouch packaging is a low-cost, high-impact solution for SNFs and long-term care facilities to reduce errors and the burden on staff during medication distribution (med pass). It can also help patients transition to their homes after discharge when they are at higher risk of not taking their medications as directed.
Finding a pharmacy partner who can be the patient’s true ally in care is a crucial step in improving patients’ lives. To learn more about medication pouch packaging and Personalized Medication Management, contact the expert pharmacy team at Clarest Health.