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Higher level of service

OneWorld Pharmacy medication packaging program simplifies medication management

OneWorld Pharmacists, Elizabeth Marquez, PharmD, and Amy Schafer, PharmD, lead the medication packaging program.

When it comes to taking medication, daily routines involve counting pills and remembering what dosage and time to take each prescription. This requires constant management and can be mentally exhausting, especially for individuals with a complex prescription regimen.

When medications are not taken as prescribed or forgotten, they cannot work as they are meant to and do not help the patient improve their health.

The OneWorld Pharmacy’s Medication Unit-dose Packaging Program removes the difficulties that come with managing medication, so patients can stop worrying about when and if they took their medications and start focusing on bettering their health.

“We help patients keep track and stay on track,” said OneWorld Pharmacist, Elizabeth Marquez, PharmD. “Every patient in this program can have full confidence that their packs are correct, and that’s because we put a lot care and time into every package.”

In 2021, OneWorld purchased the Parata Perl Pass machine that takes all of a patient’s prescriptions and packages them into individual pouches by date and time for 1-3 months at a time.

Each pill pouch has the patient’s name, the name of each medication in the pouch, prescription number and other legal requirements printed in addition to the date and time. This ensures patients have access to all of the medication information they need.

To start out, the pharmacy team, led by Dr. Marquez and OneWorld Pharmacist, Amy Schafer, PharmD, worked with OneWorld clinical pharmacists to identify patients who needed help managing their medications and outreached to OneWorld clinicians.

Today, the program has nearly 150 patients actively using this program for their medications.

The pharmacy team utilizes the Parata PASS Safe Loader to ensure medications are accurately packaged.

“This program provides a higher level of service,” said Dr. Marquez. “If the dosage is for a half pill, we split the pill in half so the patient doesn’t have to worry. We do all of the work on the back end to make sure the right dosage is going in the right pouch at the right time.”

Before beginning the packaging process, Dr. Marquez said the team looks through the patient’s chart information to confirm current prescriptions, look for upcoming appointments, possibilities for discontinuing a medication and adding or changing medications. This is done to ensure the prescriptions included in the patients’ pack are up-to-date and accurate.

The pharmacy team also tracks when each patient’s current set of pouches will be out, when they are due for their next set and stays in contact with patients to make sure they are staying on track.

In addition to accuracy, customization is a major part of the medication packing process.

“We speak with each patient about their preferences for taking their medications,” said Dr. Marquez. “The packing process is very customizable. For example, we can split up pills that need to be taken on an empty stomach from pills that need to be taken with food so there is no need for the patient to remember.”

Dr. Marquez said that while most medications can be packaged with other medications, there are exceptions. Some manufacturers specify that their tablets must be kept in their original containers. Other prescription products such as inhalers, loose powders, liquids or creams and ointments cannot be packaged in this system.

The Parata Perl PASS machine packages medications into individual pouches that indicate date and time of day.

For these medications, the pharmacy team inserts a reminder pouch into the package. These pouches are empty, but are included at the appropriate time of day with the medication information on the pouch to serve as a reminder.

This program comes at no additional cost to patients. The only fee patients are responsible for is for the dispensing of the medications themselves.

Dr. Marquez said an additional benefit for adult children who care for their parents and manage their medications is that these packages make it easier to identify if their parent is not taking their medications.

“With individual pill bottles, it can take longer to identify medication lapses, which can cause harm to the patient,” said Dr. Marquez. “This program takes away that guess work.”

The pharmacy team is continuing to find ways to make this program accessible for non-English speakers and individuals who cannot read. For Spanish-speaking patients, the machine can print the time of day in Spanish to make interpreting the pouches easier.

For low-literacy individuals, the team creates a color-coding system to differentiate the times for each pouch. Once the patterns are established, all they have to do is look at the color to know they are taking the right pouch.

“We are excited about this program because we feel it has made a difference,” said Dr. Marquez. “We have seen great results and we are excited to continue to provide this high-quality service and care for our patients.”

Affordable medications for the community

All community members, regardless of patient status, are welcome to use the OneWorld Pharmacy. OneWorld offers discounted and/or competitive prices for prescriptions and over-the-counter medication, both generic and name brand.

On average, filling a prescription at OneWorld for a patient costs 20-50% less than filling at other pharmacies. Insurance, Medicaid or Medicare is welcome, but coverage is not required for care.

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