Pharmacist Kristen has a BS in Pharmacy from the University of Saskatchewan. Her experience as a clinical pharmacist, spin instructor, and meditation teacher make her a well-rounded health and wellness expert. As Catalyst's Director of Clinical Outcomes, she leads patient engagement initiatives and works with community pharmacists to get meaningful results. For a patient or a population, improving health outcomes is her jam!
When I joined Catalyst as Director of Clinical Outcomes, one of my first projects was with an (amazing) team of researchers at the University of Waterloo on a prospective, observational study involving our spencer in-home medication dispenser. Together with the research team and clinical pharmacists at Pack4U Toronto, we observed 65 participants over a six-month period, closely measuring the impact on medication adherence, usability, and caregiver burden in Ontarians aged 65+ with at least one chronic condition.
Key findings, discussed in more detail below:
When people use spencer, we can see whether or not they're taking their medication. Their pharmacy has a dashboard for insight into their patients, and we see data across all users. When people take everything as prescribed, great! And for those who aren't, we discuss potential reasons why with their pharmacist. Many times it's a simple tweak to better align with an individuals schedule, i.e. the first dose on Wednesday's is at 8:30am instead of 7:30am. These small adjustments help people to achieve great adherence, which then gives us the opportunity to assess whether the medications are effective.
Over the six month study period, the average adherence was 98%, far above the 80% benchmark that is recognized by the World Health Organization as “adherent”.1 Not only was the adherence high, but patients found spencer to be easy and simple to use - a few even reported it to be fun! This is great news as it means that people are more likely to stick with it, which is important to consider as we want to achieve and sustain high adherence over time.
And in addition to people taking their meds properly, something we constantly hear about is the impact of spencer on caregivers - from having meds organized and delivered to knowing that they're being taken and that there are clinical pharmacists actively watching out for their loved one. So we were very enthusiastic about the team at Waterloo measuring the impact in a formal way, and were thrilled with the results.
For caregivers, the study showed spencer has the potential to improve caregiver burden, otherwise known as the strain of caring for a patient, over time. With caregivers often going above and beyond to care for their loved ones, it can impact their own quality of life. With the assistance of spencer, caregivers spend less time focusing on administering medications, allowing for more time for themselves and other important tasks.
Below is the poster presented at the Canadian Geriatrics Society Annual Scientific Meeting, May 26-28, 2021.
Further to this, a manuscript is in the works, which I can't wait to share! Medication adherence is one of our hardest mountains to climb as pharmacists. Not only does medication adherence improve health outcomes, it also has key implications when considering how to care for people at home.