Medication Therapy Management as a tool for reduced cost of care and fewer readmissions

A colleague asked me if I had any information on the use of Medication Therapy Management (MTM) as a way to reduce healthcare cost and prevent, or decrease, readmissions.

I’m kind of a digital packrat and I knew that I had some stuff sitting in Evernote, so I spent the better part of a day rummaging through the information I had. The deeper I dug the more I realized that MTM is a no-brainer. There’s enough information out there to convince even the staunchest opposition.

Some thoughts I had as I read through my Evernote notes:

  1. I find it interesting that we’ve coined the phrase Medication Therapy Management (MTM) for something that pharmacists have been doing for decades. I remember interning for a community pharmacy back in the late 90’s. Speaking to the patient about their medication, adherence, compliance, adverse effects, etc was simply part of the job. Have we forgotten about that?
  2. MTM comes in many forms. Positive intervention can be achieved over the phone, via Telepharmacy, face-to-face with a pharmacist or technician, and so on. It is not a one size fits all approach.
  3. Even the simplest interaction between provider and patient can create a positive impact.
  4. MTM should start when a patient is admitted for any condition, continue throughout their hospital stay, and follow the patient out the door to their homes. In other words it should be continuous.
  5. Not everyone will need pharmacist intervention once they leave the hospital. Healthcare systems should first target patients with chronic conditions, problems with cognition, poor history of compliance, or a heavy medication burdens. Like everything else in the world around us, some people will do better with more help while others will prefer less.
  6. mHealth and sensors should be part of MTM. Continuous glucose monitoring, heart monitors, blood pressure sensors, smart bottles, devices to monitor and record inhaler use – classic area for pharmacist intervention, wireless digital scales for weight – think heart failure, and so on . This information should be fed directly into the patients MTM record for review by the pharmacist, physician and nurse.

Below is a summary of the MTM information I sent my colleague.
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Using facial recognition for medication adherence?

While doing a routine search of Twitter I came across AiCure (@AiCureTech), which touts itself as “Computer vision and facial recognition technology to confirm medication adherence on mobile devices”. Ok, you got my attention. Unfortunately the Twitter account appears to be dead as the last Tweet listed on the account was from September 25, 2013. The AiCure website is a bit more recent, however. The last item posted to their News & Events section was from March of this year.

There’s a video on the website that gives a basic overview of the process. I would have embedded the video here, but couldn’t figure out how to grab it, which is a real shame because it’s in their best interest to make information easy to share.

After watching the video I’m not entirely sure that the process makes sense to me. The video shows a jogger running on a pier. The jogger receives a notification on her smartphone reminding her to take her medicine. She stops, pops the tablet in her mouth, records the transaction via facial recognition on her smartphone, and then merrily continues on her way. In my experience people that are as “with it” as the person portrayed in the video don’t have any trouble remembering to take their meds; calendar reminders, pill bottle next to the coffee pot, etc. And why is the jogger carrying her medication with her while out jogging? I assume her jogging session wouldn’t last more than an hour or two. Take the med before or after. There’s no sense of the importance of the medication to the patient’s condition, nor is their any sense of the person being so busy that they couldn’t remember to take their medication. It would have made more sense to show some teenager with a serious medication-dependent disease state going through a busy school day. Right? Having so much fun with their friends that they forget to take their medication?

Thoughts on marketing aside, the concept of using facial recognition is intriguing.

From the AiCure website:

The combination of automated computer vision technology with dynamic patient feedback, offers a new gold standard in medication adherence monitoring. The computer vision platform is being extended to develop a robust identification and authentication system for medication.

Much like a voice recognition system, which understands what the user says, AiCure’s sophisticated, patented computer vision system visually understands what the user is doing.

The software-based technology is uploaded onto a smartphone or tablet computer. The user follows a series of pre-determined steps that are instantly recognized and confirmed through the webcam.

Automated DOT® [Directly Observed Therapy] confirms facial identity, medication dosage, correct ingestion, and time of ingestion. In addition, built-in data tools allow for ongoing patient-provider feedback; reminders in case of nonadherence; positive feedback; self-reported data by the patient; and therapy information – all designed to ensure real-time adherence monitoring and improved patient adherence over time.

Additional thoughts on the use of gravimetrics for I.V. compounding

Scale in PECSeveral months ago I wrote about my thoughts on using gravimetrics for I.V. compounding. At the time I wasn’t convinced of the utility, but my thoughts on the matter have changed. Over the past several months I’ve had the opportunity to dig deeper and mull over my thoughts on the matter.

There was a session at ASHP Midyear back in December titled New and Emerging Strategies for Minimizing Errors in I.V. Preparation: Focus on Safety and Workflow Efficiency. The presentation covered several topics, but one thing that caught my attention was data presented on error rates for the preparation of compounded sterile products (CSPs)1 and the benefits of using gravimetrics in the process. I was skeptical about some of the numbers that were presented. Data is only as good as how it was collected, what it’s compare against, and how it’s presented. One should always question the data, especially when it runs contrary to previously held beliefs.
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Access to information and learning

“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” ― Albert Einstein

I’ve recently returned from the ASHP Summer Meeting. I learned some new things, which serves as a reminder to me of the importance of continuous learning and access to information in our profession.

As a pharmacist I’ve been involved in a lot of systems over the years designed to keep me up to date. All have been successful in their own way, but obviously some were better than others.
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New Medscape Pill Identifier Tool [reference]

Medscape Pill IdentifierI received an email this morning from Medscape introducing me to their new Pill Identifier Tool.

The tool is pretty simple to use. When you click on the link above you’ll be taken to the Pill Identifier Tool site where you can begin your search. Any pharmacist, nurse, or physician that’s ever used a reference to identify an oral medication will be familiar with the process.

Across the top of the Pill Identifier you will find several fields to help narrow your search: IMPRINT, SHAPE, COLOR, FORM, SCORING. I’ve always found that if you have the imprint you’re about 80% there.

Clicking on a medication will give you additional information. There’s even an option to view the Drug Monograph.
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