curant health's personalized medication management program works for living bridge patients
Jeff Vollman, the HIV Program Director for The Living Bridge, a Ryan White entity in North Georgia, met Tim when he was 22-years-old. Tim had been diagnosed with HIV two years earlier, in April 2008, and that diagnosis was followed by others for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia in June of the same year.
One complicating factor for Tim, no doubt a byproduct of his mental health conditions, was a complete aversion to taking pills. Tim heard voices urging him to not take his medication and to hide any that he received from the clinic. Vollman and his staff eventually discovered in early 2009 that Tim had not been taking his HIV medications for nearly a year.
Initially, the doctor and staff at Living Bridge were undeterred, proposing a series of options to facilitate Tim’s medication regimen. Over time, each potential solution – pill organizers and programmed alarm clocks, pill glide gel, weekly medication injections – failed. Not taking his medication meant Tim was unable to silence the internal voices warning that the prescribed medication was harmful. Tim’s HIV condition worsened, and his care team exhausted all available options.
After months of not taking his medication, Tim’s situation appeared helpless. Tim was placed on palliative care and hospice in June 2014.
In July 2014, his HIV viral load exceeded 840,000 and he had a CD4 count of 4. Even while receiving palliative care, Tim continued to struggle with adherence, missing critical doses of medication he needed to save his life.
The same staff members who rooted and cheered for Tim originally were now so depressed by his lack of progress they had frank conversations among themselves as to who would attend Tim’s funeral and who would help care for his newborn son.
According to Vollman, “once Tim was at the bottom health-wise, he began taking meds. But he was inconsistent. He took enough to make him feel somewhat better, and then he would stop.”
Says Vollman, “The way Curant Health personalized [Tim’s medication packaging] turned him around 180 degrees.”
Tim meets Curant Health
Tim was one of the first Living Bridge patients enrolled in Curant Health’s personalized medication management program in February 2016.
A key initial component of his medication program was the introduction of bubble packaging for his medication. This packaging, designed to make medication adherence easy for patients, involves prepackaging all of a patients medications by time the time of day they should be taken, and including any special instructions that are needed, such as to take the medication with food or water, in small, perforated pouches. Tim’s bubble packaged medication was delivered directly to his home.
Tim was also partnered with Lori, a Curant Health patient care coordinator. Lori called Tim on a regular basis to see how he was doing in general and to ask if he was having any challenges with his medication. Lori became yet another member of Tim’s care team.
Personalized medication management has worked wonders for Tim. Medication bubble packaging relieved Tim of his fear and suspicion of his medicine, and since he’s been on this program he has been 100% adherent to his treatment protocol. In April 2016, two months after starting with Curant, Tim’s viral load was undetectable and his CD4 count had risen to 452. Tim shared with Living Bridge’s Vollman that he “loves Curant because the bubble packs make [his medication] easy to take and remember.”
Curant Health’s personalized medication management program saved Tim. He continues to be adherent to his medication regimen, has an undetectable HIV viral load, is married and is active in his young son’s life.
It’s been a year and a half since Tim has been a recipient of Curant Health’s services and during that time he has been completely compliant and adherent to taking his medications. In addition to gaining 32 pounds, which allowed him to reach a healthy weight, Tim’s CD4 count has risen to 550 and stays between a range of 550 and 460. Vollman was pleased to report that Tim’s viral load is still suppressed and he is stable. He is no longer scared or disoriented about the importance of remaining on his medication regimen and is dedicated to spending more time with his family and only child.
In his personal life with his toddler, Tim spends time enjoying the fruits of being a stay at home dad. “The fact that he can solely take care of his child by himself, day after day, is impressive since Tim has had a stressful time with his mental health issues and chronic illnesses in the past,” says Vollman. “Tim continues to visit his North Georgia doctor’s office once every three months and often brings his family with him as they continue to support and grow with him in his patient care journey.”