Home Technology How people with multiple medication needs are being left behind

How people with multiple medication needs are being left behind


Issa Patel, CEO, CONNECT Care, explores what he feels is a crucial oversight which will have long-term, negative repercussions on the NHS and care providers if not addressed.

Healthcare’s tech infrastructure is growing at a rapid pace. The problem is it’s doing so unevenly. As digitisation accelerates, many health providers have shied away from finding solutions to more complicated cases which means patients with complex care needs are being left behind. The digital future we’re currently building isn’t an inclusive one – and we need to redress this now, before it’s too late. 

One group getting left behind by the digitisation of health and social care are people who take multiple medicines. This group – who typically have complex care needs and include older patients or those with comorbidities – have been forgotten in the vision of future healthcare. The digital health and care systems that are being developed don’t support them or the people who care for them: friends and relatives, carers, and clinicians.

Take, for example, the way medicines are managed. Digital pharmacies are now appearing which deliver medicines straight to a patient’s door. This works if you’re a patient who has a regular prescription or might need one-off medication. But it doesn’t work if you’re someone taking multiple medicines.

Why? Because patients with multiple medications need a system that understands how those medicines work together and their effect on their everyday health. The traditional, local pharmacy setup offered wider value than simply getting medicines from A to B; pharmacists built up specific knowledge about their patients and their medical history and could understand how medication changes could affect them and how prescriptions might interact. This vital element of care is missing from the new digital solutions that have sprung up. And it means patients who take multiple medicines can’t benefit from them.

It’s easy to understand why. Some digital health providers aren’t financially compelled to cater to more complicated patient cases, such as those taking multiple medicines. It’s also a trickier need to cater for from a technological standpoint, there are understandable fears around compliance, and it’s easier to serve patients who have straightforward needs. In short, digital health providers seem to fear touching the management of medicines and, as such, patients are being excluded.

A digital future that isn’t inclusive isn’t one we should want. By overlooking this crucial group, we are putting further pressure on health and care providers; the services which need to step in when medication management goes wrong, or patients can’t receive the support they need at home. Digital health providers need to open their eyes to the needs of patients with multiple medicines and start looking for ways to bring them into the digital health revolution.

That’s the philosophy behind our work. We build technology that allows digital health providers to bring the tailored support of the traditional pharmacy into their technology offering, so people who take multiple medications can also be digitally supported. Our solution not only empowers people to take the right medication at the right time, through patient reminders and real-time updates to carers and relatives, it gives clinicians and carers access to the same, up-to-date medication information for truly coordinated care.

This helps health teams plan for side effects, understand if additional support is needed and quickly discern whether an event, such as a fall, may be connected to a patient’s medication. It’s technology that gives teams easy access to actionable patient insights, making better care possible without increasing the admin burden.

Crucially, it’s a digital solution that doesn’t take patients and teams away from existing health infrastructure. We need more tools that plug into other digital platforms, so it enhances their accuracy and knowledge, rather than competing with them and creating information silos. It’s this approach to healthtech that builds the foundation for an inclusive digital future.

The innovation we’re seeing in healthcare is exciting. But if digital health providers continue to neglect patients who manage multiple medications, its promise will quickly turn painful. Health and care must find solutions that support every patient – otherwise the digital revolution risks leaving the most vulnerable behind.

Previous articleWakefern adds PA chain to its cooperative family – Produce Blue Book
Next article9 Simple Foods High in Healthy Fat — How to Eat More Healthy Fats