Catalyst Healthcare Announces Funding to Test Interactive Medication Dispensing System for the Chronically Ill

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Researchers from Alberta Health Services, the University of Alberta, and the University of Waterloo to study Catalyst's medication dispensing system 'spencer' with financial support from the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI)

This funding and research demonstrates government commitment to addressing challenges associated with aging, chronic conditions, and caring for people where they want to be — at home.

Today, Catalyst Healthcare Ltd. (Catalyst), announced funding from the Industry Innovation Partnership Program (I2P2) run by the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI) to test interactive medication dispensing device, spencer (https://www.meetspencertoday.com/). spencer is designed to help people who are taking multiple medications to take the right doses at the right times.

The matching program funding, from CABHI and Catalyst, will support two studies — one in Alberta and one in Ontario. The studies involve researchers from Alberta Health Services, the University of Alberta, and the University of Waterloo who are looking at the potential benefits of a medication dispensing system to support medication adherence for individuals living at home with chronic conditions. The aim is to shift from providing care in hospitals to more community-based care that is closer to home, with multi-stakeholder collaboration that involves the healthcare system, communities and technology partners coming together to optimize senior’s health, well-being and independence.

Catalyst spokesperson, Kasumi Oda, says, “This funding being made available through CABHI reinforces government commitment to addressing challenges associated with aging, chronic conditions, and caring for people where they want to be — at home. The current situation is unsustainable. We need to find lower cost ways to support people who choose to age at home.”

Medication non-adherence is when people don’t take their medications as prescribed. It’s a widespread problem with serious effects.

“Worldwide, between 25% and 50% of patients do not take their medications as recommended. In the USA, sub-optimal adherence has been associated with 125,000 deaths, 10% of hospitalizations, and costs up to US$289 billion annually.” (The new landscape of medication adherence improvement: where population health science meets precision medicine, Patient Preference and Adherence, July 2018: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6049050/)

Not taking drugs as they were prescribed - at the wrong time, or in the wrong doses, skipping or combining doses - can lead to lower quality of life and life-threatening effects. When not treated properly, many chronic conditions can lead to serious complications such as strokes, heart attacks, and kidney failure. This decreases patients’ quality of life and increases the burden on the healthcare system.

Applied research is necessary to find out what helps people take their medications properly. These studies on spencer track subjects for 6 months. Half the subjects in the trial will use spencer and half will continue to take their medications as they do now. The researchers will see if using spencer makes a difference to medication adherence, along with patient experience to determine its future sustainability.

The spencer device is about the size of a toaster and it contains a cartridge of pre-sorted medications. It reminds patients to take their medications with audio and visual alerts.

It also allows for communication between the patient and their caregiving team. It connects the patient with their doctor and a specially trained pharmacist, who can ask about potential side effects on spencer’s screen with interactive text or by video consultation. Caregivers can connect to spencer with an app, which notifies them if their loved one dispenses a dose late or misses one altogether.

When spencer is running low on medications the connected pharmacy delivers a re-fill to the patient’s home, saving a trip to the pharmacy.

To understand how to help people live healthier lives, it’s important to gather scientific evidence. Taking medications as prescribed will help the chronically ill, the elderly, and other at-risk individuals to stay at home longer, live more independently, and enjoy their quality of life.

Catalyst Healthcare is an award-winning technology company with offices in Canada and the United States that’s dedicated to improving medication adherence and reducing the costs associated with non-adherence to health systems. Catalyst provides a pharmacy model that improves healthcare delivery and patient care at a scale that reduces system-wide costs. Through Catalyst's medication adherence ecosystem, a suite of connected technologies that gather, share and correlate data in real-time, pharmacists can better serve their patients and play a key role in population health.

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Kasumi Oda
Catalyst Healthcare

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