Sort it Out: How Better Prescription Packaging Options Can Help Patients

Sort it Out: How Better Prescription Packaging Options Can Help Patients by Elements magazine |

How you package prescriptions matters. When you use adherence packaging solutions that help you sort, organize, label and track patients’ medications, you can improve patients’ lives—especially those on complex drug therapies.

One such medication synchronization and adherence packaging system is Medicine-On-Time, which offers standard and high capacity multi-dose blister cards that stand alone or work with a pharmacy automation system.

“The package itself has never been the focal point,” said Peter Benjamin, director of business development at Medicine-On-Time, a compliance packaging and medication management company. “It’s always been about making it simple and easy for the patient.”

“But the package is critically important when you talk about multiple medications being taken, or multiple doses at various times throughout the day. Having all of that medication in one package that’s labeled correctly, organized correctly, with the correct dose, at the right time and is color-coded by time of day, that’s a huge improvement from what has traditionally been offered through pharmacies.”

Packaging benefits

Independents are always looking for new ways to differentiate their businesses from competitors, improve patient care and grow their profits. And, adding next- level medication packaging solutions that also promote medication synchronization can accomplish all three.

You can increase refills—even up to three or more refills per patient—with a medication synchronization and adherence packaging program like Medicine-On-Time. “Those two components lead to more refills per patient, which links directly to profitability and revenue for a pharmacy,” Benjamin said.

Better medication packaging can also improve pharmacy workflow and procedures. Without a medication packaging system, you get what Benjamin calls “medication bingo.”

“This is patients taking their prescription meds, spreading them out on a countertop, trying to figure out where to put the next dose for the next days or next weeks in pill organizers or bags, or even back into vials,” he said. “It’s very complex and it’s very disconcerting. It can be equally as challenging for their family members who are their caregivers, as well. That’s when we see incredible increases in misdoses, forgetting to take medication, running out of medication and failing to refill.”

Helping patients

Not only does adherence packaging combined with medication synchronization simplify the prescription refilling process for your pharmacy, it can also improve patients’ lives, especially for individuals on complex medication regimens.

Benjamin said that almost any individual can benefit from medication packaging services. Any patient on a multi-dose medication regimen, even if he just takes multiple vitamins a day, is an excellent candidate. Others who can benefit include elderly patients in assisted living facilities, professionals on-the-go looking for organization and convenience and even children going to summer camp (or camp nurses managing multiple medications.)

“The missing piece of medication synchronization has always been the packaging,” Benjamin said. “This is a great opportunity for pharmacies to pursue advanced patient care.”

Many patients likely don’t know that they can benefit from compliance packaging. Benjamin advises pharmacies to market and sell their unique medication packaging services. You can do this by creating marketing materials to distribute and share with patients and physicians.

Other marketing opportunities include attending health fairs and working with hospitals post-discharge to aid in transitions-of-care. “There are a plethora of opportunities pharmacies have to market and sell this service,” Benjamin said. “The main point being that this will enhance and improve patient care.”

Product details

Medicine-On-Time helps pharmacies simplify medication regimens through its complete system, which in- cludes compliance packaging, integrated software and an optional workstation.

Its two compliance packaging lines include standard and high capacity multi-dose blister cards. The standard size can hold up to six medications, and the high capacity size can hold up to 12. The packaging keeps medications airtight and the labeling system on the calendar cards features all the information you need to know, such as product name, strength, quantity, physical description and a photo of each drug contained in the calendar card.

“Both products have our perforated, detachable dose cups with patient-specific information and prescription history on the back of the dose cup,” Benjamin said.

The detachable feature is key. “You don’t have to take an entire calendar with you over lunch, at night or on the weekend,” he said. “The dose is for that particular time period and they’re color-coded.”

And if your pharmacy already uses an automation system or if you’re looking to add a pharmacy robot, Medicine-On-Time works with various automation vendors.

“We’re not an automation company per se,” Benjamin said. “We’re in the medication adherence, compliance packaging and medication management business. But we do partner with select automation companies.”

The company’s new laser labels also make the product stand out. “Our new laser labels feature color printing, drug images or pill pictures, and patient photos that combine with our new clear coat blisters to give our pharmacy customers the ability to package and deliver patient-specific, multi-dose blister cards efficiently, consistently and compliantly,” Benjamin said.

But you need more than just compliance packaging for a comprehensive service. Medicine-On-Time includes a robust workflow system that integrates with more than 50 pharmacy management systems and can handle complex dose schedules. “It’s user-friendly and was developed with pharmacies in mind,” Benjamin said.

“It may seem like a daunting task in the beginning to have a new software system, and all this packaging implemented in the pharmacy, but we have pharmacies up and running sometimes in a few days or even a week,” he said.

The costs of compliance

Medicine-On-Time charges a monthly fee, which includes software, hardware components, training, installation and support. The consumables and additional supplies are purchased as needed. “The program pays for itself with as few as 15 patients,” Benjamin said. “After that it can be a significant vehicle for additional revenue and profit.”

If you’re working on a limited budget, charging patients for packaging their prescriptions could mitigate some of the costs—and add perceived value.

“It really is contingent upon the population that’s being served and not so much the reimbursement structure, but what the pharmacy is comfortable with charging or not,” Benjamin said. “I’ve had pharmacies that charge nothing because maybe they’re serving a population that can’t afford even a nominal fee. I’ve had pharmacies charge anywhere from $5 to $35 a month for this service, or for the packaging or delivery fees. It really depends on the pharmacy, the population and what the acceptability of the charge would be for this type of enhanced service.”

Packaging can improve adherence

In today’s environment, where more of your reimbursement will be tied to performance measures such as adherence, it’s important to find ways to boost your patients’ adherence rates. Compliance packaging and medication synchronization not only offer convenience for pharmacists, they can also improve patients’ adherence.

Adherence leads to better patient outcomes and lower health care costs, as demonstrated in a February 2011 study published in the The American Journal of Geriatric Pharmacotherapy, where nursing home admissions were reduced by 66 percent and hospitalizations and ER visits also saw significant reductions when utilizing the Medicine-On-Time program.

“Medicine-On-Time is committed to improving patient quality of life through safe, accurate solutions to medication management,” Benjamin said.

By the numbers

Simplifying patients’ complex medication regimens doesn’t need to be difficult. And Medicine-On-Time, an industry pioneer in medication packaging systems, has the record to prove it.

250+ million – Prescriptions filled
33 – Years in the industry
400 – Pharmacies using Medicine-On-Time
96 – Average compliance rate percentage


A Member-Owned Company Serving Independent Pharmacies

PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy-side of their business. Founded and owned by pharmacists, PBA Health serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, wholesaler contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, and more.

An HDA member, PBA Health operates its own NABP-accredited secondary wholesaler with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products — offering the lowest prices in the secondary market.

Editor’s Picks


Elements is written and produced by PBA Health, a buy-side solutions company.

Sign up for a FREE subscription to Elements magazine!


Sign up to receive PBA Health’s e-newsletter to get the latest Elements web articles in your inbox every other week, along with industry news, supply chain insights, and exclusive offers.

Related Articles

Popular Articles