iPads are good for reading books, watching movies or surfing the web. And now pharmacists can use them as a tool to communicate with patients to catch harmful drug side effects.
Purdue University associate professor Matthew Murawski developed a five-question survey called the Pharmaceutical Therapy-Related Quality of Life tool (PTRQol), to identify any possible adverse side effects a person may experience from taking a drug.
"Many patients do not mention side effects to their doctor or pharmacist because they either don't recognize that they are connected to the medication or they consider them the cost they must pay to keep from being ill or dying," Murawski said. "In addition, patients who are experiencing side effects are less likely to take the medication as prescribed or may stop taking the medication altogether, which can lead to catastrophic health consequences. Pharmacists can work with patients to eliminate most of these side effects, but they can't help if they don't know what the patient is experiencing."
With the PTRQol, when a patient arrives at the pharmacy, the pharmacist inputs the drug name into an iPad. Then the patient answers a series of yes-or-no questions about the most common side effect symptoms and the degree to which they are experiencing them.
Depending on the results, the pharmacist can suggest simple changes to alleviate side effects like taking a medication after a meal or avoiding certain foods.
The time a patient spends with a pharmacist has decreased to an average of two minutes--one-third of what the counseling time was 20 years ago. A simple iPad checklist could improve communication between pharmacists and patients and make it easier to discover adverse side effects and improve patient comfort.