Leveraging Medication Adherence Programs to Personalize Healthcare

By Terrence O'Neill | Posted on September 7, 2023

Leveraging Medication Adherence Programs to Personalize Healthcare


Personalized healthcare may be the industry’s latest buzzword, but research shows that personalized care does indeed improve patient experience and outcomes. Expectations of today’s patients have been spurred from their elevated online retail experiences, which are highly personalized. As a result, healthcare consumers now expect the same level of personalization in their healthcare encounters.  

Medication Adherence Issues Persist

According to C. Everett Koop, MD, US Surgeon General, in 1985, “Drugs don’t work in patients who don’t take them”. While that may seem obvious, medication non-adherence continues to vex the US healthcare system. Although drug discovery has made spectacular progress in treatments, adherence to those medications still plagues the industry. Poor medication adherence is the most common reason for the disparities in clinical trials. It is experienced throughout the drug and patient lifecycle, impacting real-world outcomes. And in the US, it is responsible for approximately 125,000 deaths per year. 

Struggle to Solve Adherence Issues

Solutions, including auto-refills, medication synchronization, text messages, and phone calls, have been implemented at pharmacies to address the adherence issue. However, while these services are effective in getting drugs to patients, they don’t help patients actually adhere to their medication schedule. Research revealed that prescriptions in the automatic prescription refill programs were associated with a significantly longer amount of time in the pharmacy before being picked up by the patient. This makes you wonder if patients were truly adherent, could they afford to leave their medications behind the counter for extended periods?

Many retail pharmacies have tried to address this issue by text messaging patients that prescriptions are ready for pickup. However, the effectiveness of those reminders has been subpar, one concluding that messages to refill medications may facilitate improvements in adherence, which in turn can improve chronic care. 

Calendarized Packaging Proves to Improve Medication Adherence

The way medications are packaged can have a significant impact on whether a patient takes prescriptions. Packages that remind individuals to take their medications have been very effective. For example, birth control pills have been distributed in blister packages since the 1970s, and more recently, some antibiotics. Studies have shown that the adherence ratios with traditional drug bottles are as low as 50% for many patients. In contrast, blister packs with day codes can significantly increase that percentage, improving patient adherence. Furthermore, calendars can be printed on blister packages, making it easy to track if medication has been taken and when patients should take their next pill.

The Personalized Medication Adherence Program

Instead of dispensing medications in traditional amber bottles, utilizing calendarized adherence blister packaging can help patients who often have no idea of how adherent they truly are. Each dose taken creates a personal patient engagement experience. The calendarized blister is a user interface prompting the patient to be compliant and immediately alerts them when they have not been, which enables them to modify their behavior if necessary, moving forward. Physical cues are integrated to remind patients to order refills. Additionally, the abundant amount of real estate on both sides of the carton enables QR codes to be prominently displayed and can be a gateway to conveniently lead patients to online pharmacy resources or seamlessly connect patients to other ecommerce solutions. 

Adherence Packaging Valued for its Personalization

Personalization makes customers feel valued and improves brand loyalty, and it is more important than ever to consumers. It is considered necessary for proper consumer engagement. A recent study discovered that calendarized adherence packaging is viewed as a method with a high degree of personalization. 76% of respondents say that calendarized medication adherence packaging feels more personalized. A solution proven to improve medication adherence in a personalized manner is a win-win for both patients and pharmacies.

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