Thrifty White Drug Stores, an employee-owned drugstore chain with over 80 locations in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Montana and Wisconsin, including a location in SunMart, West Fargo, have introduced the Rx Timer Cap, a patented smart cap with a built-in LCD timer that fits the same standard vials a patient's maintenance medications already come in. Thrifty White will give away a free Rx Timer Cap to customers for each medication enrolled in the drug store's Ready Refill, Medication Synchronization or HealthyPackRX programs, which increase patient convenience by making sure refills for maintenance medications are filled ahead of time and ready when the patient needs them. Additional Rx Timer Caps may also be purchased at any Thrifty White location.
"The number one problem of treating illness today is a patients failure to take prescription medication correctly, regardless of patient's age." said Tanya Schmidt, Pharm.D., RPh. "Our stores receive several calls a day asking what should I do if I forgot to take my medication?"
The Rx Timer Cap is a simple, easy-to-use device that fits on the original prescription bottle, replacing the standard cap with one incorporating a digital LCD readout. The display works like a simple stopwatch counting up the hours and minutes since the container was last opened to tell patients exactly how long it has been since they took their last dose. Activation is automatic and foolproof since there are no alarms to program, no buttons to press and no instructions to read. The mere act of opening and closing the container resets the timer.
Studies have shown that today less than half of all Americans take their medications as prescribed by their physicians. In addition, almost 25% of caregivers report problems with medication management. Not taking medications as prescribed can cause serious complications and result in unnecessary emergency room visits, hospital admissions and even premature death. Furthermore, in studies conducted by the World Health Organization and the New England Healthcare Institute, the estimated cost of poor medication adherence is estimated to over $300 billion in the United States - which represents approximately 14% of total healthcare expenditures in the United States. These studies also showed that medication non-compliance is the single greatest cause for readmission to hospitals, and is responsible for 30-40% of the hospital admissions for people over the age of 65.
There are many factors that can contribute to poor medication adherence, but in a 2005 Harris poll, the most common factor cited was forgetfulness, which is especially common with medications for asymptomatic conditions. Many people are so busy that it is hard to remember to take their medications or to remember if they have taken them. By automatically keeping track of the interval between doses, the Rx Timer Cap reinforces the importance of adherence while providing daily feedback to patients on how they are doing, making it much easier for patients to take their medications as prescribed by their physicians. By letting patients know exactly how long it has been since they took their last dose, the Rx Timer Cap also increases medication safety by preventing medication overdoses and alerting patients when someone else has opened their medications.
Retail pharmacies like Thrifty White are on the front line of healthcare, seeing patients more often than any other healthcare provider. Thrifty White is taking maximum advantage of that fact, moving the needle on medication adherence by creating programs and strategies that leverage pharmacist counseling, pharmacy programs such as their Ready Refill, Medication Synchronization and HealthyPackRX programs and simple and cost-effective tools such as the Rx Timer Cap to engage patients in their care and give them ongoing daily feedback on how they are doing.
In an independent study conducted with the drug Niaspan (used for the treatment of high cholesterol), 10,000 patients were split into two groups. The test group was given their medication in containers utilizing the Rx Timer Cap, while the control group received their medication in containers with a standard cap. Over a 90-day period patients in the test group with the Rx Timer Cap experienced an astounding 33.9% increase in compliance with dosage instructions.