OTC products aid in patient transition and independence
Over-the-counter medicines can play a significant role in the transition of patients from hospital to home by helping to prevent infections and complications, as well as helping patients to remain adherent with their therapies.
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Beyond playing a role in the transition from hospital to home, OTC products, including home healthcare products, can help patients maintain their independence at home. “People are staying at home longer because it is so cost-prohibitive to be in a nursing home, to be in a managed care facility, to be in a hospital,” said Jeff Swain, VP marketing and product development at Carex Health Brands. “There’s a real opportunity both in that area, as well as people who are transitioning from a hospital stay to home.”
Retail pharmacy is often the first stop for patients on their way home from the hospital, suggesting pharmacists can play a critical role in helping transition those patients from one care setting to the other. “We believe the role of the pharmacist is extremely important for products like this,” said Kristin Harper, VP brand management and marketing at Cardinal Health. “They definitely provide a critical role in helping with that continuum of care.”
One-in-five patients are readmitted to the hospital within the first 30 days of discharge, according to a report to Congress from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. “What they found was that they were readmitted not for their initial diagnoses, but for problems that occurred in that acute care period — the first 10 to 15 days that they were discharged,” noted Kerri Miller, founder of Make People Better, which supplies a line of pre- and probiotic immune support products.
And many of those patients — both those being discharged by hospitals and those staying at home longer — are being cared for by another. Today, nearly 43.5 million Americans provide care to an adult, according to a recent report from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP.
In fact, many of the OTC products that will serve this need are purchased by caregivers. “Two-thirds of our products are purchased by caregivers,” Swain said. These caregivers are providing that care on top of working full-time jobs in many cases, he said, so they don’t have a lot of time to spend on product research. That makes shelf education and pharmacist intervention critical.
“By targeting not only the patient, but also the caregiver, we want to make life easier for them,” Harper said. “By providing hospital-quality products, it helps to remove that worry that they have: ‘Is this going to be the best care for my loved one?’”
There may even be an opportunity in creating a destination center for caregivers of patients either preparing for surgery or coming home from surgery, positioned adjacent to either first aid or durable medical equipment that contains advanced wound care, gloves for caregivers, incontinence products, as well as products designed to prevent infection or improve recovery.
Cardinal Health recently released a line of more than 165 home health products called Hospital Quality at Home — products designed to help caregivers make that transition from the hospital to home.
And Hibiclens, an antimicrobial cleanser recommended for use before surgery to prevent/reduce surgical site infections, MRSA or a Staphylococcus infection, may be another good fit. “Doctors often direct patients to shower [with an antimicrobial cleanser] prior to surgery and after surgery,” said Steve Sorci, key market manager, at U.S. Surgical Molnlycke Health Care. “A lot of times they don’t know where to look, so they go to the pharmacist.”