Pillcheck: Optimizing Medication Plans for Seniors with Dementia

Award Date: 2017

Project Lead(s): Candace Chartier, Chief Executive Officer

Project Title: Individualized Medications Management in Ontario Long Term Care

What is the issue?

The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is looking for ways to reduce the use of unnecessary and ineffective medications, as well as reduce the use of opioids. Long-term care residents with dementia and other conditions that affect mental health often take multiple medications, including drugs for depression, pain, cardiovascular, and digestive health issues.

What did we do?

We tested the Pillcheck software service in four Toronto nursing homes to see if it would help us optimize the medication plans for residents. We used it to assess current medications, prescription patterns, and look for potential drug-gene interactions. Next, we reviewed and adjusted medication plans to reduce the use of antipsychotics and minimize the risk of adverse side effects.

What did we find?

The Pillcheck software provided unique insights on the ability of each resident to metabolize their medications. We used this personalized information to select safer medications and adjust doses for residents with multiple conditions. Pillcheck flagged 29 drugs as having no effect or posing a high risk of side effects and identified 85 that needed dose adjustments. To achieve greater clinical impact, Pillcheck should also be offered to seniors taking multiple medications for managing depression, anxiety, and chronic pain.