PictureRx: Helping Patients Take Their Medication Correctly


Aug 17


What is PictureRx?

PictureRx is a new, image-based tool that simplifies medication instructions for patients who struggle with low-literacy, by generating a card that clearly illustrates all the “need to know” details: when to take the medication, how much should be taken, what the medicine is for, and how to administer it. Essentially, PictureRx clarifies all the variables that accompany prescribed medicine. It is easy to think that once a patient has been prescribed medication by a CommunityHealth provider that the patient has been taken care of; however, ensuring that the patient understands, and is taking their medication correctly is a crucial competent of care. With PictureRx, CommunityHealth knows that the scope for misunderstanding is significantly reduced.

An example of a PictureRx card

How is it beneficial?

The cards are designed to specifically help those with a low literacy level. They act as a safeguarding measure against the possible catastrophic consequences of patients getting their medications mixed up, taking the wrong dosage, or simply not taking the medication at all. We all know that medical terminology doesn’t contain the simplest verbiage; PictureRx replaces medical terminology with visual aids to ensure clear comprehension.

One common cause for confusion in pharmacies is the visual differences between different brands of medication. Because the majority of medication distributed by CommunityHealth is donated, patients may receive pills with different stamped imprints. The difference in appearance of a pill is often enough to make a patient resistant to taking their medication, believing they may have received a different medication altogether. By placing a picture of the current branded pill provided to the patient next to the usage column, the patient is able to quickly confirm that they are indeed taking the right medication.

This confirmation is also key for patients managing chronic conditions, such as diabetes. Due to a switch in supplier, the same amount of medication that was distributed from one large vial, may now be dispensed from two slightly smaller vials. It would be easy for patients who are unsure to only take one vial, thus halving their needed medication intake. The clarity afforded by PictureRx means patients always have a handy referral tool, and can be certain about the medication they are taking. It is also especially useful for those who are taking multiple medications at once; our patients already using PictureRx have given us great positive feedback regarding the cards.

How did PictureRX start?

PictureRx was developed for individual usage in 2013 based on feedback from numerous individuals within the medical sector who had seen the consequences of patients not understanding their medication. In addition to helping patients, the idea was for to PictureRx to provide peace of mind to the family and friends of the patient. When our Director of Clinical Services, Emily Hendel, came across the idea, she got in touch with PictureRx about an institutional version that could be used to serve patients here at CommunityHealth. PictureRx kindly granted us access to a version of their software that allowed us to start using the cards for multiple patients, and they have continued to work on developing the software further in the ensuing years.

It would certainly come as no surprise if in the future PictureRx cards become the norm; it is the type of idea that when you come across it, you can’t believe it didn’t already exist. Our patients love the unique cards, and we are excited to continue utilizing them for those in need.

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