Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the long-term (LTC) industry was no stranger to unique challenges. Serving the most vulnerable patient population in the U.S., LTC facilities and their pharmacies have a vital responsibility to their patient populations and foster an environment unlike any other sectors in the industry.
When the pandemic hit, the impact was immense and quickly shined a light on the strain of facilities but also, gave industry leaders the opportunity to step-up, come together, and win the war on COVID-19. However, emerging out of the pandemic and into the “new normal,” the old way of taking care of residents and doing business needs to be challenged. There cannot be a return to pre-pandemic — COVID-19 has proved that healthcare centers can be adaptable and provide the best possible care and living experience for residents. As such, LTC facilities need to find a way to differentiate themselves, and one key way to do so is by embracing technology in the pharmacy, befitting the facility, staff, and residents.
Providing Adherence Packaging to Differentiate & Thrive
In an effort to stay relevant and profitable — while also prioritizing resident health — LTC pharmacies can turn to adherence packaging solutions. The solutions effectively provide enhanced medication compliance, and are customizable by resident and administration time, which have been proven to help ensure all medications are getting passed, helping keep residents healthy.
Adherence packaging can also help to lessen the burden on nurses, by unchaining them from the medication cart, and giving them an opportunity to spend valuable quality time with each resident. At the same time, such packaging helps avoid costly fines for medication pass errors and challenges associated with rehospitalizations, as there is the opportunity for a viable post-discharge strategy.
Reports continue to show that lack of adherence to medications results in over 100,000 deaths per year and costs the healthcare system billions of dollars annually in avoidable expenses. Thus, responsibilities do not end at discharge. Adherence packaging allows for the ability to follow the residents post-discharge and help them secure adherence packaging will significantly decrease the chance of rehospitalization.
Continuing to Stay Safe in the “New Normal”
While COVID-19 restrictions and protocols may be beginning to lift, there is certainly an opportunity to keep practices of safety in place even inside the pharmacy as the “new normal.” By implementing automation in the pharmacy, there is the ability for greater space between staff while automation does work that might otherwise require staff to be shoulder to shoulder.
Similarly, with automation quietly and efficiently handling redundant tasks such as counting, packaging, and checks, pharmacists and technicians can reallocate their time. This reallocation can be outside of the dispensing area, once again allowing for the freeing up of space, but also for other business initiatives.
Facilitating Change for the Benefit of LTC & Patients
While the pandemic turned the LTC industry on its head, there was a lot to be learned on how to best keep residents healthy and keep LTC facilities and pharmacies in business. Automation can provide the versatility LTC facilities need, help drive diverse patient populations and keep staff and residents safe. The “new normal” is the optimal time for the LTC industry to take that next step forward.