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Access to On Site Medication Solutions Help Pharmacies Address Increased Higher Acuity Patients at Skilled Nursing Facilities


June 24, 2021

Long-term care (LTC) pharmacies and facilities play a critical role in caring for the needs of an aging population with a lengthening lifespan. An expanding higher acuity aging population and limited clinical resources raise the importance of accurate and cost-effective medication management to provide quality care. To help address these challenges, long-term care facilities and pharmacies are partnering with Swisslog Healthcare to deliver in-facility dispensing technology that increases medication access, reduces staff time for preparation of medication passes, minimizes waste and supports improved resident quality of care.

The population of seniors age 65 and older in the United States is projected to almost double by 2060. The aging of the baby boomer generation is also projecting a 50% increase in the number of people needing nursing home care by 2030. Skilled nursing facilities are experiencing an increase in patients with complex medical concerns, with pressures for shorter hospital stays contributing to these challenges. Add to that the typical long-term care resident takes an average of 12 prescriptions per month, and together these factors translate to long-term care pharmacies and facilities caring for higher acuity patient populations.

These factors underscore the need for increased access and availability of medications for residents at long-term care facilities. Waiting to attain prescriptions from remote-site LTC pharmacies may result in delayed patient care, particularly for after-hours admissions. When long term care facilities and pharmacies utilize in-facility medication dispensing and packaging systems, they are able to provide access to medication inventory at the time of admissions or if there are new or changes to existing prescriptions. This is a value-based automation technology that can lead to reduced readmissions by overcoming medication management challenges.

With this model, in-facility medication inventory is determined by the pharmacy prescriber and the facility clinical team.

In long-term care facilities, nurses spend a large amount of time working on medication preparation and passes, as well as reconciling narcotics. Using an in-facility system eliminates blister card management because it delivers “on demand” prescribed medications, which enables the exact dosage to be dispensed directly to the nurse, only when needed. The medication management process creates a streamlined med-pass, cutting the number of steps in half and limiting the opportunity for medication errors. Consequently, improving nurse and resident satisfaction by freeing nurses to spend more time with residents.

To thrive in today’s competitive market, long-term care pharmacies need to operate efficiently, take full advantage of reimbursement opportunities and deliver excellent client service. Remote dispensing, powered by automated packaging and dispensing systems, reduces the number of daily medication deliveries, saves pharmacy labor and coordination time, minimizes drug waste processing typical of blister cards and enables the capture of additional short-cycle dispensing fees. Swisslog Healthcare’s InSite In-Facility Medication Packaging and Dispensing System makes it easy to manage prescription changes and improve medication availability in long-term care facilities.

“As a pharmacist, I have observed long-term care facilities challenged with a more complex, higher acuity patient base while also confronted with limited clinical resources. This emphasized the importance of pharmacist oversight and accurate, cost-effective medication management in providing quality care,” explains Huan Nguyen, R.Ph., Vice President, Long-Term Care Business Development at Swisslog Healthcare.




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