The medication packaging used in long term care pharmacy has evolved over the past few decades, with rapid changes occurring just a few years ago. Most LTC pharmacy services providers today utilize medication punch cards to dispense medications to SNF residents or PACE participants.
Medication punch cards were first used in the 1970s, when pharmacies began packaging together 30-day or larger supplies of medications. Current usage of punch cards can be traced back to 2009 when the Congressional Budget Office determined that medication waste in long term care would cost Medicare more than $5.5 billion by 2019.
As a result of those findings, rules were issued in the next few years mandating that prescription medications in long term care pharmacies be dispensed in no greater than two-week increments. This drive to reduce medication waste led to the advent of punch cards for 7- or 14-day periods, rather than 30-day periods as they were previously.
But when it comes to medication management, there’s a better kind of packaging than medication punch cards. Let’s take a look.
Medication Management: Medication Punch Cards vs. SimplePacks
While punch cards, or bingo cards as they’re sometimes called, seem like a good method of dispensing medications, they can actually make the process quite tedious and cost-prohibitive. For one, punch cards make medication passes less orderly for nurses. They have to search through a stack of punch cards to locate a resident’s medications, which can make it difficult to quickly and accurately find things.
With SimplePacks, nurses have more efficient access to medications. Grane Rx technology uses automation to package medications together that are taken at the same time of day, including morning, noon, evening and bedtime, as well as on an as-needed basis. Because the medications are presorted and come packaged in secure, easy-to-separate packets, they make medication passes easier for nurses.
These same benefits extend to PACE participants and their caregivers through Grane Rx’s PACE Pharmacy services. PACE participants and caregivers are able to quickly ascertain what medication is needed at a given time, without accessing medications they don’t need.
Dispensing medications in SimplePacks also reduces waste. The packs are dispensed in short day supply, 3 days or 4 days, rather than the longer durations typically seen with punch cards, like a 7, 14 or 30 day supply.
This short cycle packaging is especially beneficial to the post acute care industry. When medications are discontinued from a resident’s medication regimen when using punch cards, you could see waste of more than a week’s worth of medication. With SimplePacks, a smaller amount of medication is dispensed, yielding less waste.
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Medication Management: An Enhanced Layer of Safety
SimplePacks also offer additional layers of security. Only medications that can be taken safely together are packaged together, helping avoid adverse drug interactions.
Additionally, Grane Rx offers an added layer of security not offered by many pharmacies. Before being dispensed, all SimplePacks are sent through imaging technology, which checks for multiple indices, including size, shape and color, among other factors. This process is crucial for accuracy and safety.
Finally, for PACE programs and members of our Meds2Home™
program, the packaging itself features both written and visual information, designed for optimal clarity and safety. This includes written details about the medication along with a visual depiction of what the medications look like. These details are paired with EasyRead medication literacy materials that explain the medication’s purpose, dosing and other pertinent information.
Interested in learning more about the long term care pharmacy solutions Grane Rx can provide for your Skilled Nursing Facility or PACE program? Call (866) 244-MEDS (6337) or reach out to us here.