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RxMap Helps Patients Navigate a Clear, Error-free Path through Medication Regimens

For anyone with a medical condition or chronic disease, the right medication can make a critical difference in their health, safety and quality of life. But when people with acute illnesses or chronic conditions fail to improve, despite appropriate medical treatment, the reason is often a complex problem that perplexes healthcare professionals: medication non-compliance, also called medication non-adherence. The term refers to the failure or inability of patients to take their prescribed medications as directed, and it’s an enormous and costly problem in the U.S. and around the globe. In the U.S., the problem is so widespread that it is now a primary contributing factor in medical complications of illness and hospital re-admissions.

Medication non-compliance takes many forms: taking too many, or too few doses; taking them at the wrong time, or under the wrong conditions; skipping or forgetting them; or stopping the medication before completing the prescribed number of days. Often, non-compliance is due to practical issues that present obstacles for patients, explains pharmacist Shawn Nairn, R.Ph., owner of Hometown Pharmacy in the Green Tree Shop' n Save and Hometown Pharmacy in Kuhn’s Market on Banksville Road.

“Medication non-compliance is not as simple as it may sound. It isn’t that patients are simply refusing their medications, as the term “non-compliance” seems to suggest; rather, it’s that there are numerous obstacles that keep patients from adhering to their regimens. Non-adherence has many causes; some are practical, while others are systemic, part of healthcare industry policies and practices.”

For many patients, the most immediate issue is cost. Co-payments, especially when one is taking multiple medications, can be beyond the patient’s budget, especially if they are on a limited income. For others, access to the pharmacy may be a challenge, if they are homebound and lacking in support systems that might provide transportation. Not every pharmacy makes deliveries, and those who live in rural areas may be far from the nearest pharmacy. Sometimes, the problem is with the medication regimen itself. Patients with chronic illnesses often take multiple medications, at all different times of the day. “It can be a challenge to keep track of it all and even to remember what was already taken,” Nairn says. This is not just a problem for the elderly; young people can also have a hard time keeping track of their medications, as can parents whose children have complex medication schedules. Busy schedules and distractions can make anyone forget to take medication.

Another factor may be a lack of understanding on the part of the patient, about their condition or their medication. “A knowledge deficit is often an issue for patients. They may not have received adequate patient education, or they may have been given instructions at a stressful time when they were unable to absorb the information, such as at discharge. They simply don’t understand the importance,” says Nairn.

Whatever the reason, failing to take enough medication means that one does not receive the full benefit of the medication, and symptoms may worsen. In the worst case scenario, this can be a matter of life and death. Taking too much medication can lead to overdose.

Fortunately, there are efforts underway at many levels to address the problem, and one of the most effective strategies is also one of the most practical: the RxMap, a pill packaging system that is designed to assure compliance with multiple medication regimens. “RxMap means ‘medication adherence packaging.’ It organizes medications in an easy-open bubble card that contains the pills and clear labels directing when they’re to be taken,” says Nairn. “It’s completely individualized and physically easy to use. There are no bottles, and no risk of spilling the pills.” The process could not be easier: the patient or caregiver makes one phone call to a pharmacist at Hometown Pharmacy to enroll, and the service then takes care of every detail. The package of medication is delivered monthly to the patient’s home; the pharmacy takes care of refills and changes, and communicates with the patient’s physician directly. The patient’s only responsibility is to take the medications. The service is free; the patient pays only for co-pays as usual. The quality of service makes Hometown Pharmacy a “concierge pharmacy.”

Developed by MTS Medication Technologies, RxMap simplifies and facilitates medication adherence, promotes patient safety and convenience, and offers caregivers peace of mind. Most importantly, it keeps patients healthy. When they are taken correctly as prescribed, medications can be nearly miraculous. They can lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, ease pain, lift depression, correct imbalances and perform countless other functions that restore health, improve quality of life, and even prolong the lives of those who take them. RxMap is a proven system that reduces the incidence of complications, emergencies and re-admissions due to medication non-compliance.

For more information or to enroll, call (412) 539-1331 to speak with a Hometown Pharmacy pharmacist.

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