What do one gong, 21 five-minute talks in healthcare, and fun have in common? If you guessed medication adherence, a $300 billion problem in the United States, you would be correct.

Community Health Network (CHN) and Butler University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (COPHS) teamed up to spread the idea virus on improving medication adherence—patients taking their medications as prescribed—during “21 Flavors: Ideas on How We Might Increase Medication Adherence.” The continuing education think tank was held July 25 at Butler.

Ideas proposed ranged from the simple—drinking water before taking medications or involving patients in healthcare decision making—to children’s books and wearable devices such as Google Glass and Jawbone Up wristbands. Other ideas included tools to teach empathy to pharmacy students via a pillbox simulation project, rapid assessment of adult literacy, and state of the art pill boxes that wirelessly upload medication adherence data to the cloud.

An estimated 40 percent of patients with a chronic disease fail to take medications as prescribed, leading to reduced quality of life for patients and unnecessary emergency room visits and hospitalizations that add substantially to national healthcare costs.

The think tank was the brainchild of Butler graduate and Chief Pharmacy Executive at CHN Jim O’Donnell ’85.

“One of the biggest challenges keeping me up at night is medication adherence. How can we help our patients properly take their medications?” said O’Donnell. “I was passionate about bringing together a group of healthcare and life science professionals to start conversations with real-world ideas that might help improve medication adherence.”

Julie Koehler, associate dean for clinical education and external affiliations at Butler COPHS, agreed. “One of our goals at Butler is increasing the team-based approach to educating healthcare professionals, so we were thrilled to have Jim reach out to us and support this symposium for providers across healthcare.”

Twenty speakers presented their ideas for improving medication adherence during the half-day symposium, the first co-sponsored by Butler and CHN. (O’Donnell presented twice, for 21 suggestions.) Each speaker was given five minutes and five slides to get across one idea on improving medication adherence quickly and succinctly. A gong sounded between speakers to keep the aggressive schedule on target.

“I’m proud to say that all 21 talks fit into the day, and some great ideas not only were provided as stand-alones, but there were ideas presented that can be combined,” said Erin Albert ’94, director of continuing education and preceptor development at Butler.

Speakers each brought one guest, keeping the audience size manageable and the ideas flowing across professionals—including pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, consumer behavior professionals, and physicians, Albert said. “This was a great half day of learning that I also think was fun!”

“I already have staff asking how they can attend ‘21 Flavors’ next year,” O’Donnell said. “We challenged every attendee to try at least one of the 21 ideas presented with their patients over the next three months. I can’t wait to see how the ideas spread over the course of the next three months.”

Media Contact: Mary Ellen Stephenson
(317) 940-6944