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.
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