Cool Pharmacy Tech – T-Haler

The T-Haler is a training device developed by Cambridge Consultants to help asthma patients learn how to use their inhalers. Why is this such a cool piece of technology? Because patients invariably do a crapy job using their inhalers.

I used to ask asthma patients to demonstrate how they used their inhalers, and I was almost always disappointed by what I saw. Most patients don’t understand how to properly use these simple little devices, which ultimately leads to treatment problems, and in worst case scenarios poor control of their asthma.  This is especially true in pediatric patients. Asthma education was a big part of the pharmacist’s job when I worked in a pediatric hospital.

From the Cambridge Consultants site:

Cambridge Consultants developed the T-Haler concept, a simple training device. Interactive software, linked to a wireless training inhaler, monitors how a patient uses their device and provides real-time feedback via an interactive video ‘game’. T-Haler provides visual feedback to the user on their performance and the areas that need improvement. These tools could help the estimated 235 million asthma sufferers worldwide to get the most from their inhaler, and potentially reduce the millions spent annually on asthma-related emergency room admissions.

More than 50 healthy participants, aged 18-60, took part in a recent study conducted by Cambridge Consultants to test the efficacy of T-Haler. Before using the training system, the average success rate of the group in using an inhaler correctly was in the low 20% range – in line with numerous other studies carried out. The participants had no prior experience with asthma or inhalers and were given no human instruction beyond being handed the T-Haler and told to begin. The on-screen interface walked the group through the process, which takes just three minutes to complete.

The T-Haler measures three key factors for proper inhaler use. First, whether the patient has shaken the inhaler prior to breathing in; second, the force with which they breathed in; third, when they pressed down on the canister (the step which releases the drug). These three variables can determine the efficacy with which drugs are delivered in a real metered dose inhaler (MDI) device.

As healthcare trends toward a focus on preventive care and devices which offer greater consumer appeal and compliance, innovations such as the T-Haler may soon become the norm in doctors’ offices, pharmacies and clinics.

MedVantx launches medication adherence program

EMR Daily News:

MedVantx, Inc., has announced the deployment of its patent pending Patient Profile™ patient medication and adherence reporting engine across its network of 3,600 high prescribing primary care providers participating in the Company’s integrated program of initial free medication therapy, adherence management and home delivery program. This new program utilizes the Company’s proprietary automated ATM like sample management system (“MedStart™“) and an integrated secure web reporting portal to provide physicians visibility to their patients’ adherence to chronic medication therapy…

The MedStart™ system automates the traditional sampling process for the physician; captures physician sampling data for inclusion in the patients’ claims history medical record and provides consumers access to highly relevant drug and disease state educational materials. Since patients don’t always get prescriptions filled, physicians can enhance adherence by providing their patients with initial therapy and better informational tools to manage their conditions right from the office…

 

Now with the availability of the MedVantx Patient Profile™, physicians are able to view data about how patients, on an individual basis, are complying with their prescribed medication treatments.  By showing exactly when a patient fills prescriptions, physicians can detect late refills, gaps in medication fulfillment, discontinued treatments and more to accurately access and improve patient compliance.

Interesting concept. I often wonder if simply getting rid of chain and grocery store pharmacies, and going back to neighborhood community practices would be the best way to improve patient medication compliance. I’ve worked in chain, grocery store and community pharmacies and have always felt that the small community practice knows their patients best and provides the best patient care when it comes to medication management. Something to think about anyway.

More on the system mentioned above can be found at the MedVantx website.

Technology and pharmacist impact on medication adherence

mobihealthnews: “According to a recent study by Express Scripts, Americans might be wasting as much as $258 billion annually by not taking their prescribed medications. Missed doses can lead to emergency room visits and doctors’ visits, which could be prevented if medication adherence was improved. The Express Scripts study found that more than half of people who believe they take their medications properly are not, according to a report in USA Today.

A similar study conducted by NEHI found that poor medication adherence results in illnesses and ensuing treatments that cost some $290 billion in unnecessary spending each year, $100 billion of that in avoidable hospitalizations alone.

Two members of Congress recently introduced bills to allow Medicare reimbursement for more patients to sit down with therapists one-on-one and equip patients with pill boxes or text message services that help patients become more adherent, the USA Today report said.

The Toronto University College of Pharmacy conducted a study that found medication therapy saved about $93.78 per patient annually in a study of 23,798 people, USA Today reports.”
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