Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Improving patient compliance and reducing medical errors by redesigning pharmacies

Here is an interesting article on how pharmacies interact with patients in the United States.

From the article:
“For reasons I cannot explain, my pharmacist is stationed behind a glass partition. I often have to stand in line till it’s my turn at the booth. I stand while talking. Usually it’s the pharmacy’s less-professional assistant who I interact with. (Actually, I’m not sure what her background is--pharmacist-in-training, salesclerk, something else?) She’s my main contact unless I have a question. Then the pharmacist will come out from behind the glass and provide a usually abbreviated answer. That, or just holler the answer back.

Key takeaway:
·         Design the pharmacy layout so as to encourage conversations between patients and pharmacists. Conversations with pharmacists have the potential to improve patient’s compliance to medications and avoid drug confusion.

From the article:
“Today a typical pharmacy displays rows and rows of pills in similar-looking white bottles on the pharmacist’s shelves. These different drugs are then transferred to identical-looking pill bottles. With the bottles being heavily tinted in an orange or Target-pharmacy red, the pills themselves--even when they look different in actuality (many don’t)--are difficult to see. (The Target pill bottle, circa 2005, with its flat sides and color-coded ring, helps, but it’s not a silver bullet.) The generically printed bottle labels look the same and bear drug names that are hard to differentiate and difficult, sometimes impossible, to pronounce.

Key takeaway:
·         Basic human factors principles such as color coding, grouping like medications, and better labeling strategies can be employed to reduce the reliance on pharmacist memory and consequently reduce the incidence of errors pertaining to medication selection.

Photo credit Candy via Wikimedia Commons.

1 comment:

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