The Mounting Cost of Counting Pills

November 19, 2019

Most New Zealanders over the age of 70 years are prescribed 4 or more medicines and a small number take as many as 20 different medicines.

As we get older, we get prescribed more medicines and that makes our medication regimen more complex. At the same time, age-related changes can make it hard to take our medicine as intended. Mobility issues can sometimes make it difficult for older New Zealanders to collect prescriptions in person and they might struggle to keep track of multiple medications. Even remembering to take medicine at the right time in the right way gets harder.

Reading pill labels, opening pill bottles and counting pills is a challenge that many seniors face multiple times every day. To avoid this, many seniors count out their pills and sort them into daily dose trays once a week, but this is fraught with difficulties as well.

For all these reasons, seniors are considered at high risk for medication misuse and this leaves them vulnerable to adverse events.

The Numbers

The US Food and Drug Administration estimate that 20-30% of new prescriptions are never filled. In addition, 50% of medication is not taken as prescribed, leading to preventable hospital admissions.

According to research from the Pharmaceutical Society of NZ, 1.5% of all hospital admissions in NZ (around 20,000) are the result of medication related events. These events, many of which are preventable, increase drug related morbidity, reduce availability of hospital beds and incur a significant financial burden.

In 2019 a report from The University of South Australia estimated that more than 200,000 hospital admissions in Australia every year are caused by medication errors. It put the annual cost of medication-related problems in Australia at nearly $1.4 billion and this is likely to grow as the aging population expands.

You Can Stop Counting Now

Spritely has combined age-friendly technology with advanced pill dispensing techniques to completely eliminate the need for seniors to collect prescriptions, track medication, read pill labels, open pill bottles, count pills or sort doses.

Retirement village residents that sign up to Spritely’s Club Meds service get all their medication delivered in pre-sorted, pre-packaged, pharmacist checked, easy-open sachets, dispensed from a purpose-built medication case. Electronic alerts remind people when it is time to take their medication and residents can contact their pharmacist to discuss any concerns or queries with the touch of a button. The system is fully explained and demonstrated during an in-house visit by a specialist pharmacist.

The service, which already operates at Alpine View and Burlington villages in Christchurch, makes medication easier and safer for older people and gives their family extra peace of mind.

As more seniors start counting on Spritely for their medication, we hope Pharmacists and DHBs can start counting the reduction in hospital admissions.