Pharmacies and patients benefit from pouch packaging technology.
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Poor medication compliance contributes to chronic disease complications and reduced quality of life for patients; it also greatly increases healthcare costs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that inadequate compliance costs between $100 and $300 billion yearly in the United States. Parata provides innovative medication pouch packaging technology that drives growth and efficiency for pharmacies, while providing convenience and improved well-being for patients and caregivers.
Medication compliance is crucial to improve chronic disease outcomes and reduce healthcare system costs. Research indicates that special reminder packaging incorporating the date and time for dosing, can increase medication compliance. “Our demographic struggles with taking medication,” said Paul Magno, Ambulatory Care Program Manager for Outpatient Pharmacy at Boston Medical Center. “We are the largest safety-net hospital in New England, and five or six languages are used on a daily basis, adding to the challenge.”
Smaller pharmacies interested in offering compliance packaging often start out with a manual system, which can be difficult to scale when business grows. “BMC had been using an older compliance packaging system for years, and the number of patients served was relatively small, 50 to 100 patients a month,” said Sebastian Hamilton, Director Outpatient/Retail Pharmacy Services at Boston Medical Center. “As the pharmacy program grew to over 900 patients a month, with each patient receiving on average eight medications, it became clear that we needed to better manage this program using automation.”
Manually packaging medications is a tedious process that requires pharmacists to complete each patient’s monthly supply. This increases labor costs and takes pharmacists away from providing direct patient care. Manual packaging is also less accurate. Boston Medical Center saw this problem emerging and took steps to correct it.
“We began to see an increase in packaging errors due to pharmacists being stressed to meet the daily volume needed for patients to continue their medication therapies without interruption,” said Hamilton. “In the interest of patient safety, it was decided not to add any more patients into the medication compliance program until we developed a process to provide this service more efficiently and safely.”
Parata’s ATP® 2 Pouch Packager packaging units offer a reduced need for manual labor combined with accuracy and scalability in a relatively small footprint. The system’s ability to streamline and automate the pharmacist medication process, which eliminates about 90% of the check time, was also important to Boston Medical Center. The inclusion of staff training and ongoing customer service also influenced the decision.
“[Their status as] industry leader in adherence packaging combined with Parata’s ability to provide proper training and ongoing support were also key factors in leading us to make this purchase,” said Magno.
Automated compliance packaging streamlines the process and frees up staff. “In the past we had a very manual process, generating labels and requiring a tech to count meds into vials, which were then sent to a pharmacist to place one-by-one into a pouch or card cavity,” said Magno. “Now we transmit the information electronically to the filling unit and that automatically pouches up most of our packaged meds.”
Since implementing Parata technology, Boston Medical Center has increased total output by more than 16%. “I would say that is directly related to the automated packaging units,” said Magno. “More and more complex care patients are enrolling in our program because of the adherence package benefit.”
Adherence packaging is safer, as well as more convenient for patients. The Parata ATP unit utilizes AdherePac pouches and seals each dose in a separate, perforated area. “If a patient is traveling overnight or to a group home, they don’t need to take an entire box of pouches. They can take just what they need,” said Magno.
Boston Medical Center utilizes two differently sized ATP packaging units, as well as Parata’s BullsEye Tablet Splitter and their InspectRx® Pouch Inspector unit. The InspectRx machine works in tandem with the ATP units and identifies 12 physical characteristics to ensure medications are placed in the correct pouches. The unit also captures images of every pouch filled, creating an accurate visual record of all medications dispensed.
Implementing Parata’s ATP units has increased Boston Medical Center’s output and reduced overhead at the same time. “We’ve been able to produce a high number of packages safely per day, our labor cost to produce packaging has reduced, and we are able to scale to meet demand safely without a proportional increase in labor costs,” said Hamilton.
Boston Medical Center has plans to expand pharmacy operations from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. to 24 hours a day. “This means our pharmacists could do outreach to patients during the day, and the Parata units would fill pouches at night for sending out the next day,” said Magno.
This post is related to:Automation & Robotics