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While Canadians are benefitting from a longer life span, the aging population is putting a strain on national health care costs. One of the key causes of this strain is errors being made in taking prescribed medications. In fact, nearly 75% of adults are taking medication incorrectly, which can result in more frequent doctor and hospital visits and poor patient outcomes. The impact on pharmacies is also significant, with many experiencing a 25% revenue loss due to patients not following their prescriptions.

Digital health tools are playing an increasingly important role by putting pharmacists at the center of patient care, improving medication adherence while strengthening their patient relationships. “Effective digital health tools require four key features,” explains Shane Bishop, pharmacist and CEO of BC-based Catalyst Healthcare. “They should prompt medication administration with real-time visibility from the pharmacy, integrate with other Bluetooth devices to collect important patient data — such as glucose levels, blood pressure, and weight — have video capability for telehealth purposes, and be able to pull crucial patient reported and outcome data.”

Personalizing care 

Fortunately, there’s a device that does it all. spencer is a connected care assistant that helps patients, caregivers, and health care practitioners alike. At its core, it’s a digital pill dispenser, but it’s also part of Catalyst’s greater medication adherence ecosystem — a network of connected technologies that gather and share data in real-time. This network gives pharmacists the information they need to serve their patients in a highly personalized way. 

“Pharmacists should be leaders in patient engagement,” says Bishop. “By freeing up their time with automated solutions, it allows them to engage with patients, monitor adherence, review patient reported and outcome data in real-time, and become more proactive in caring for their patients.” 

The patient reported and outcome data pharmacists collect can also be useful for other health care professionals within the patient’s network. “We empower pharmacists to provide patients with a truly connected network of care,” Bishop says. 

Our family has peace of mind and mum maintains her independence and quality of life.

Joanna Calleja-Gera

Patient empowerment is key 

Digital health tools also help to relieve a great amount of stress. “Knowing that they’re being taken care of helps people and their loved ones to have peace of mind,” says Julie McRae RN, BN, Director of Clinical Outcomes with Catalyst. “There’s a sense of empowerment and independence that comes with being able to stay in your own home.” 

spencer helps to better manage your health by prompting patients when to take medications, asks questions that lets your pharmacist and caregiver(s) know how you’re doing, while collecting information such as blood pressure and weight via Bluetooth. In addition, there’s no need to pick up or sort pills — everything is specially prepared and delivered to your doorstep. Through the video call feature, patients can also chat with their care team from the comfort of their own home.

Peace of mind for caregivers

Canadians in record numbers are having to invest significant dollars into home care and in many instances, family members are having to become caregivers, putting them under a great deal of stress. Whether it’s driving back and forth from a pharmacy or sorting and remembering when pills need to be taken each day, it’s time-consuming, hard work. “The anxiety of whether mum took her meds on the correct day at the appropriate time is no longer an issue,” shares JoAnna Calleja-Gera. McRae agrees, “spencer is changing lives for patients and their loved ones,” explains McRae. “Caregivers can download an app that lets them know if a medication was dispensed on time or even missed altogether. This offers a huge relief.”  

Shane Bishop

CEO, Catalyst Healthcare

Reimbursement for health care is shifting to support chronic care management, with evaluation and reward based on positive health outcomes.

Pharmacists are uniquely positioned to impact the cost and quality of care delivery. In addition to being highly-educated, they’re an integral part of the communities they serve, helping people to get the most out of their medications and to stay healthy and happy at home. Empowered by technology, pharmacists are playing a central role in managing the care of patients at home, greatly reducing system-wide costs, and helping to amass the evidence-based data required for true health care reform. 

Perry Cohen

CEO, The Pharmacy Group

As pharmaceuticals grow to consume more of the health care dollar, traditional care models need to change in order to deliver the best health care outcomes and real value.

This creates a need for new pharmacy care models that would deploy pharmacists into the patient’s home to provide “high-touch” care, dispense pharmaceuticals in the most effective way to minimize waste, and integrate pharmacy with the overall patient care activities. Catalyst is addressing these needs and creating an opportunity for the future of pharmacy.

Teresa Pitre

General Manager, Pack4U Ontario

Technology — isolating or connecting?

For older adults, technology has been proven to combat social isolation and help them stay safe at home. As a pharmacist, I have seen medication management tools evolve with the goal of helping people to stay independent. Today’s technology links the pharmacist and patient with daily communication with the added bonus of dispensing of each dose on time, right in the patient’s home, using touch screen technology that’s easy to use for adults of all ages. Here comes telepharmacy at its best, moving beyond acute care and into the “connected senior” home!

Craig Tostenson

Owner, Pharmasave Glenmore

I see it every day in my practice — people who get started with spencer and then go out of their way to thank us: a mental health patient sharing that her days are now better, a man sharing his sense of relief with our team helping to care for his mom.

It has also had an emotional impact on my family — my father takes multiple medications several times each day and we worried about whether he was taking his medication at the right time. spencer relieved that worry. If you told me a year ago our family could be this relaxed, I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s no understatement to say that spencer changes lives.

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