Quintus Liu, CEO of digital health company Healthera, comments on how pharmacies can help domiciliary patients manage their medicine

Pharmacies are ideally placed to help domiciliary patients manage their medicines if they are equipped with the right technologies and the right incentives.

The primary tool for medicines management for domiciliary patients is undoubtedly the monitored dosage system (MDS). While most pharmacies default to blister cards, pouches are a great alternative for they carry multiple advantages over their 4x7 cousins.

The first advantage of pouches is that they are cheaper in the long run. They are always automated – meaning as an MDS they can be offered to more patients without increasing manual labour and staffing costs.

Plus, the unit cost of pouches is much lower than that of blister packs. Offering pouches can mean saving the pharmacy money while serving more patients.

The second advantage of pouches is that they can be offered to a broader range of patients than blister cards. They are seen as more trendy and have a much better image than blister cards.

They are also less bulky and tearing out a few pouches for the day or for a weekend is much less weight than carrying an entire week’s of medicine supply everywhere you go. This makes working professionals who are on a few medicines and a few vitamins the pharmacy’s new potential customers for an MDS.

The third advantage is that evidence shows patients are more willing to pay for pouches. Partly, this can be attributed to their relative rarity. To a domiciliary patient who is considering MDS: every pharmacy can offer blister cards, yet not many offer slick, individually packed, premium-looking pouches.

In this day and age when margins are thinning for pharmacies, it’s important not to forget: providing extra service offers extra potential. If the pouch solution were offered for a few quid subscription per month, even to a small percentage of patients, it could still add up to £10,000 more in profit each year.

But how can pharmacies best implement pouches, commercially and as an MDS? I believe it’s best to integrate this into a digital service.

Some mobile apps are integrated with pouch robots, meaning the patient can view all their pouches on the app, receive automatic medicine reminders and reorder their next month’s repeat prescriptions through the very same app – another route to help pharmacies provide a value-added service.