By: Mitesh Patel, PharmD Candidate 2014
$1.2 trillion- This is what the United States spends on healthcare. At 17% of GDP, this sector accounts for more spending in the U.S. than education, defense, welfare, and pension.1 By 2016, our expenditure on healthcare will rise to $1.6 trillion.1 As our health care spending increases, Americans experience higher rates of disease, reduced access to health care, and fewer options for treatment.2 According to the Health Reform Office, high disease rates are largely caused by the lack of access to health care and poor communication with health care providers (HCPs). Lack of education regarding medication and the importance of adherence leads to complications including re-hospitalizations.2
Management of any illness is most effective when a patient is educated about the disease. Effective patient counseling adequately informs patients and helps them understand their illness. It also enables them to make essential changes in their lifestyle to significantly improve overall health. Primary care providers and facilities that provide regular care to patients can enhance overall health. However, medication counseling from these professionals, pharmacists and pharmacy interns, can retard disease progression and reduce re-hospitalizations. Recent research suggests that professional counseling on medication can lead to safer medication usage, better adherence, and, ultimately, slowed disease progression.3
Despite heavy advocacy for improved patient counseling, it is neither as often nor as effective as need be. A National Community Pharmacy Association survey showed that 3 out of every 4 Americans reported not taking their medications as prescribed.4 This poor adherence costs Americans about $177 billion annually. Thus, adherence is a key determinant of patient outcome.4 Effective patient medication counseling could greatly reduce non-adherence and improve patient outcomes.
Effective patient counseling starts with a relationship between the patient and the provider. Today, HCPs are expected to compete more with fewer resources. Unfortunately, patient counseling in a busy environment may not be held as a priority given competing business objectives. Mobile applications such as PillTalk aim to address the need for improved patient counseling. PillTalk provides HCPs with a quick and easy-to-use reference tool simplify the counseling process. PillTalk, which was developed by St. John’s alum Ryan Kuriakose and current student Ashlyn Jose, provides quick and effective medication counseling points such as administration, interactions, and side effects in a language simple enough to be recited to patients. “Although the app has just been released, we have received a lot of great feedback. Ryan and I hope that one day PillTalk will be embraced by healthcare providers as the go-to counseling app,” says co-developer Ashlyn. HCPs always learn from their experiences with patients, and, after a while, they adapt their therapies and provide different counseling points based on their observations. PillTalk provides HCPs a growing, organic platform to share those experiences, provide feedback on the effectiveness of therapies, and suggest counseling points that will benefit patients. This app is more than a reference tool—it fills a void in patient care. PillTalk does more than helping healthcare providers counsel patients. It enables healthcare providers to re-cultivate the relationships they have with their patients to improve the overall patient health.
- U.S. Government Spending Web site. Available at: http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/health_care_chart_10.html. Accessed February 7, 2012
- Health Reform Government Web site, Available at: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/healthdisparities/. Accessed on February 7, 2012
- Khan I N, Patient counseling by pharmacist – A focus on chronic illness (Review). Available at: http://www.pjps.pk/cd-pjps-19-1-06/paper-14.pdf. Accessed on February 8, 2012
- National Council on Patient Information and Education. Enhancing prescription medicine adherence: A national action plan. Available at: http://www.talkaboutrx.org/documents/enhancing_prescription_medicine_adherence.pdf. Accessed on February 7, 2012.