Half of the patients who take medication regularly do not take them as directed. Here’s how to change that – Kasim Gulzar
Much has been rightly said and written about the heroism of nurses and doctors in our hospitals, but pharmacists have also played a vital role in the midst of the crisis.
We’ve made sure people across Scotland can always access their medicines, protecting and saving lives.
As the immediate public health emergency has abated, the NHS remains under pressure due to Covid and the situation is expected to remain difficult for some time.
Community pharmacies can help ease the burden on GP offices and hospitals. But there are also pressures on our sector. In traditional contexts, local pharmacists face growing demand.
One area of service where this may have a particular impact is the provision of Medication Adherence Aids (CAMs). These pill organizers are an important way of delivering medicine to people who depend on regularly prescribed tablets.
About half of patients receiving frequently prescribed drugs do not take them as directed, while around 11% of all hospital admissions in Scotland are the result of drug-related damage.
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ACMs are therefore particularly useful for those who have to take a range of different medications or who suffer from complex conditions such as dementia.
But reports are surfacing repeatedly across the UK of patients struggling to get help. Last year in Wokingham it was revealed that some pharmacies were no longer taking new customers who needed them.
And concerns are frequently raised about waiting lists in parts of Scotland. The process can take a long time.
But protecting this service will become even more important as the Scottish population ages and people live longer but with more difficult health conditions.
We must do everything possible to ensure the continued availability of medical aids that support patients, while also ensuring that community pharmacies have the resources to deal with the added pressure placed on them.
Technology can also play a vital role. Last year, the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sports Committee published a report on its inquiry into the supply of and demand for medicines in Scotland.
MSPs lamented the lack of technological advancements, adding that automation has the potential to “revolutionize retail”.
At Rightdose, we are rolling out a new technology initiative called Rightdose Pouch. We have invested in technology that sorts patients’ medications into individual sachets stamped with their name, day, date and time the contents are to be taken, and sent straight to their doorstep.
Each patient is assessed for their suitability for the program which is already operational in our Glasgow pharmacies and which will soon arrive in Edinburgh.
Some fear that too much reliance on technology will take away the expertise of a trained pharmacist to manually pick up medications and select the correct dose for the patient. These concerns are unfounded.
By combining the experience of pharmacists with modern technology, the dispensing process is significantly accelerated and accuracy is increased. With this technology, we can build the pharmacies of the future, while relieving the pressure to spend more time directly with patients.
Our country’s pharmacy service will be at the heart of our recovery from Covid, and with the right resources and technological advancements, we can revolutionize healthcare for Scottish patients.
Kasim Gulzar is CEO and Founder of Rightdose Pharmacy