Packaging: Providing Valuable Service To Patients

Whether you call it convenience packaging, compliance packaging or adherence packaging…community pharmacies should consider offering this service to their patients, and marketing it to other healthcare providers, patients’ caregivers, and to health facilities.

Convenience packaging prepacks a patient’s medications into blister packs or packets, portioned out and marked with the time of the day they should be taken.  It can be a profitable opportunity because it allows the pharmacy to make a complex regimen of medications easily for patients and caregivers.

Packaging systems for medications include hot seal, cold seal, robotic technology, daily dose packs, and multidose bubbles.   Systems are available that seal the pills and capsules into card-backed blister packs, either as daily dose packs or monthly packs, with some allowing for multiple pills in each blister.   Other system place medication into small packets that are labeled and sealed, with some creating a continuous strip of packets.

Staff training and equipment required varies with the type of system, ranging from smaller systems taking up part of a counter to some larger robotic systems taking up floor and office space.   Robotic systems might be best suited for pharmacies that have already been doing compliance packaging on a smaller scale.

One pharmacist said his patients who get prepacked medications take an average of 11 prescriptions a month and are often willing to pay the nonpreferred pharmacy copays at his pharmacy because of the value they are getting.  As patients with complex conditions, they often need other products and services from the pharmacy, he said.

Packaging for children is helpful because some schools have rules against children having a whole bottles of medications with them.

Packaging has to be marketed to patients and the community at large with a compelling message.   One pharmacist posts a video on his pharmacy’s blog promoting the service, resulting in numerous people asking for the service.   Another pharmacist created a brochure about compliance packaging, along with samples of the packets or blister cards.

There is a time element that has to be built into this kind of packaging.   A pharmacy has to synch all medications, bill seven to 10 days before the start date of the next pack, check for any needed refills 20 to 30 days before the next pack, and fill medical five to seven day ahead.