A Tool for Assessing and Managing Medication Adherence

A handful of medication and medication boxes

Award Date: 2018

Project Lead(s): Tejal Patel, Research Scientist, Pharmacy Lead

Project Title: Medication Adherence Products and Strategies: Clinician Tool to Guide Use

What is the issue?

Many older adults take multiple medications. But they may not always take them as prescribed, resulting in health problems and safety concerns. There are several medication aids available, including automatic pill dispensers, electronic blister packs, clock caps, pillboxes with alarms, and reminder alarms. But it is difficult to know whether they work.

What did we do?

We developed a tool that assesses older adults to see how they need help taking their medications and then recommends suitable products. The tool makes recommendations based on their needs and preferences, as well as product features like the number of alarms, cost, set-up time, and ease of use. We evaluated a variety of different medication aids with our tool. We also asked pharmacists, older adults, caregivers, and healthcare providers to assess our tool and provide their feedback.

What did we find?

The tool worked well for assessing why older adults found taking their medications so difficult. But many products were difficult for older adults to use. On average, they required completion of about 12 steps, which 23 older adults could complete only about half of the time. Among 21 older adults we interviewed about their experience, 70 per cent said they already use medication aids at home, but that the electronic products identified by our tool had more safety features and would provide them with greater peace of mind and privacy.