Poor medication adherence is a public health issue. Roughly half of patients don’t take medications as prescribed, resulting in poor clinical outcomes and costing the healthcare system up to $289 billion per year.
Pharmacists have unique expertise and opportunities to positively influence medication adherence by their patients – including understanding their directions for use, remembering to take medications, and filling their prescriptions regularly.
A recent pilot program showed that, when armed with the right tools, pharmacists can have a significant impact on medication adherence, increasing the proportion of days covered by up to 30 percent.
“Taking a patient-centered approach creates the opportunity to engage at a higher level and improve adherence,” said Todd Wormington, R.Ph, MBA, the Vice President of Pharmacy Programs for Pharmacy First. “The payoff not only is healthier, happier patients, it’s also lower healthcare costs for everyone.”
Pharmacy First and CSS Health partnered to develop a pilot program examining the impact of an appointment-based synchronization and compliance packaging program on patient adherence scores, as measured using proportion of days covered.
Medication synchronization involves coordinating refills for every medication in a patient’s therapeutic regimen. Compliance packaging consists of individually color-coded packages that help patients know what medications to take and when.
After six months, positive changes in adherence were observed across various chronic disease states, including diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, cardiovascular disease and mental health.
On average, individual patients’ adherence increased by 18.3% over six months. The impact was even more dramatic for patients who had struggled to adhere to their medications, with prescription fills increasing by more than 30 percent.
“The most effective way for pharmacists to positively impact medication adherence is to change patient behavior and make the entire process easier for the patient,” said Perry Larson, chief operating officer for Medicine-On-Time, a leader in the medication adherence market.