Greater Lawrence Family Health Center is the second largest community health center in Massachusetts, serving nearly 60,000 patients in the Merrimack Valley with a range of services from family medicine to HIV care to high-risk obstetrics.
“We’re developing the idea of a patient-centered medical home, and a big part of all of this is team care,” explains James Meyers, MD. “One of the big advantages is a great synergy between the clinicians and the pharmacists who work there.”
At Greater Lawrence, pharmacists collaborate with care teams to initiate, modify, or stop patients’ medication orders. They can be more proactive helping patients manage chronic conditions, and the care teams can focus on patients’ acute needs.
If only patients would follow directions! It’s a cry heard in health care organizations coast to coast. Greater Lawrence is committed to finding a better way to help patients adhere to their medication treatment plans. Of course, the obstacles are compounded in patients with multiple chronic conditions who have to juggle a boatload of prescriptions, doses, and schedules. Confusion is costly.
Greater Lawrence dispensed medications in individual bottles and packages, relying on patients to take them at the right time in the right dose. Like other pharmacists, they offered tips like making a chronological list of all medications and when to take them, or using a medication planner. They also provided blister-packaging whenever possible. But adherence wasn’t improving.
Then Greater Lawrence added Parata’s Patient Adherence Strip System (PASS). The packager dispenses all a patient’s meds in easy-to-open pouches and clearly marks each the day, date, and time of dose. Receiving medications this way is much simpler for patients and their caregivers —and that increases the likelihood the medications are taken correctly.
“Empowering our patients to understand their medication and why they’re taking it is one of our missions,” says Alicia Mam daCunha, the Center’s clinical pharmacy director. “When my patients walk out with the Parata PASS packaging, I definitely feel a lot more confident they’ll be able to take their medications correctly.” Nice.
Studies have shown education and management are crucial factors for increased adherence. “With Parata technology, we’re able to focus on our patients. I’m able to spend 90% of my time in direct patient care and providing patient education,” explains Ashley Rogers, one of the center’s clinical pharmacists. “We’re able to obtain additional insight into potential barriers preventing them from achieving their treatment goals.” Armed with those insights, pharmacists can offer targeted interventions.
“You have to run your business effectively, and with Parata automation, we can do that,” says Diane Martin, pharmacist and vice president of pharmacy operations. “We’ve been able to use Parata PASS to streamline efficiencies, to save money, and to use our resources for other programs. We’re able to spend more time with patients. The technology is working, and our staff is happy.”
One reason Greater Lawrence employees are happy? Their increased capacity to affect patient wellbeing, which is enhanced with Parata PASS. “I’m able to practice at the top of my license,” Alicia explains.
“I’m able to truly make an impact on my patients’ lives, prevent them from taking their medications incorrectly, and follow up with their caregivers to keep them in the loop.”
Ashley recently saw a patient who brought in more than 40 vials of medication, some of which were either expired or therapeutic duplications — and mostly full.
“This was an obvious sign to me that the patient not only needed more help understanding what her medications were used for, but she also needed a better method of organizing them,” Ashley says.
She did a thorough medication reconciliation, adjusted the prescriptions accordingly, and created customized packages for each day and time of dose. Because Ashley is authorized to make decisions about duplicate therapies and resolving drug interactions, there was no need to refer the patient back to the clinical care team. Everything was accomplished right there in the pharmacy. The patient left better informed about how her medications worked — and with the confidence and convenience she needed to take them correctly.
With a pharmacy powered by Parata, Great Lawrence leverages smarter medication packaging to support staff collaboration, improve internal processes, and drive positive patient outcomes through better adherence.
“We know medication adherence improves patient outcomes, and by simplifying medication regimens, we’re empowering the patient to take their medications,” Ashley says. “Because they’re able to take better control of their medication regimen, they feel better. And if they feel better, then they’re happier and — in turn — we may see them less often.”