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A review of devices that improve patient compliance

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One of the greatest barriers pharmacists have in providing patient care is overcoming noncompliance. Thirty to 50 per cent of prescribed medications fail to produce the desired results because patients do not follow their pharmacist's instructions.(f.1) Since it is known that prescription medications will not work if left in the vial or administered incorrectly, it is the pharmacist's responsibility to identify a patient's reasons for noncompliance and work with that patient to resolve the problem. This article provides a review of some of the different compliance aids available that may benefit your patients and increase compliance.

Patients become noncompliant for a variety of reasons, ranging from physical appearance to adverse effects. A common example in the elderly population is a patient with numerous prescription medications who is confused or does not remember his dosing regimen. As well, patients often do not understand their drug regimen or the duration of therapy and may stop medications completely or start to take maintenance medications only "as needed." These patients have the potential to miss doses on a daily basis. Poor dexterity is an added concern with some patients, but often noncompliance stems from the characteristics of the medication itself, be it taste, size, or dosage form of the drug (especially when introducing needles or suppositories). The patient's acceptance of the medication and the disease state is crucial for positive compliance.

Listening to the patients' needs and providing education on all aspects of their medication is the key to overcoming compliance barriers. However, there are also a number of products that can help both the patient and pharmacist address the problem.

Dosettes and timers

For patients with multiple medications on complicated schedules and those with memory problems, dosettes or pill boxes are viable options. These products divide the medications into single doses and dosing...