In California, pharmacies too are embracing mHealth tools

By August 09, 2012
Keywords : Smart city, America, Bi-Rite
woman in a pharmacy with her cellphone

Doctors and hospitals have been using digital tools to help patients improve their health and habits, but it seems like the participation of pharmacies could be crucial too. Local pharmacy Bi-Rite is using mHealth softawre to empower their patients with knowledge and reminders, cutting complications and emergency costs.

The practice of keeping electronic records for patients has been increasing efficiency and accuracy for physicians, hospitals, and now pharmacies, too. All actors in the health industry have been adopting digital tools - some help practitioners save time and money, and others are geared towards patients to help influence behavior and make doctor advice and medication more effective. Often, the point of the prescription breaks down at the patient level - 700,000 people are admitted to emergency rooms every year because they do not adhere to prescribed medication procedures, according to I.R. Patel, R.Ph., of Bi-Rite Quality Pharmacy in La Habra, CA. To combat this systemic weakness, the pharmacy has piloted a new “patient engagement solution” developed by PrescribeWellness.

Customized communication reminds patients to take their medicine…

Software from PrescribeWellness focuses on communication as a way to improve health and wellness with their LinkWellness software. This service delivers timed messages to the patient from the medical professional, which are optimized by what they call “Voice of Authority” to appear to be sent directly from their trusted caregiver. These messages are tailored to impact a variety of target health outcomes - chronic disease management, behavioral change and medication adherence. PrescribeWellness has worked from the vantage point that empowering the patient is key to optimal health results. When patients receive messages that have unique content and optimal timing, they will make better decisions about their health.

… And keeps patients out of the hospital

A program to educate and encourage patients to follow their doctor’s advice is simple, but could improve lives and influence the industry. Currently, 130 million Americans suffer from more than one disease and are prescribed multiple medications. Not following prescriptions results in hospitalizations and $300 billion in costs annually. Improving adherence from 50 percent to 80 percent or more could save insurance companies and healthcare providers between $4K and $8K per patient. In the pilot program, doctors tailor very different messaging protocols for a patient with two daily medications a day than from “a patient taking 20 medications a day who is also suffering from dementia.” Adherence was shown to improve 16-33 percentage points depending on patient category.

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