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How Pharmacy Patient Engagement Boosted Medication Adherence

A recent study shows that the use of a high-touch pharmacy patient engagement system made patients 2.57 times more likely to stay adherent to their medications.

By Sara Heath

Medication adherence is a critical part of chronic disease management, and yet is a major challenge for providers. However, pharmacies in Arkansas may have a solution to the medication adherence conundrum through the use of innovative patient engagement model that brings pharmacists and patients together on a regular basis

A recent study conducted by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) and the Arkansas Pharmacists Association shows that the use of Appointment-Based Medication Synchronization (ABMS) made patients 2.57 times more likely to stay adherent to their medications. “Unlike automatic refill programs, the ABMS builds upon established pharmacist-patient relationships to provide high-touch interactions,” claim Painter et al.

As the authors of the study explain, ABMS program leverages multiple technologies (e.g., PrescribeWellness for medication synchronization) as part of a virtual network in order to complete tasks ranging from scheduling appointment days and sending reminders 7-10 days prior to these appointments to reviewing orders the one day previous and meeting with patients face-to-face to go over any potential issues or need for additional services.

Based on the findings, the system helps patients to get on a schedule with refilling their prescriptions, allows them to do so all at the same time, and generally makes the refill process more manageable. Additionally, it streamlines pharmacists’ responsibilities, allowing them to take more time to make a genuine connection with patients and to further engage with them as they receive their medication.

“By simplifying the pharmacy’s workflow, the pharmacist has more time for valuable patient interactions and other services that help improve health outcomes,” the authors claim. “Patients’ personal connection with a pharmacist or pharmacy staff is the number one predictor of medication adherence.”

The study included patients who used at least one of several different types of medication to treat a chronic illness. Participants had to be using that medication for at least two consecutive 30-day periods. For the purposes of the study, participants were separated into two groups—enrollees (those using ABMS) and the control group.

The researchers then collected data regarding medication adherence and non-persistence. Medication adherence was measured by the proportion of days covered (PDC) and non-persistence was measured by the date that a patient had stopped taking a medication for 30 consecutive days. Participants were then compared to a similar patient in the opposite group. Patients were compared by gender, age, what kind of medication they were taking, pharmacy urbanicity (the kind of environment in which the pharmacy was located), and follow-up time.

The study showed that patients enrolled in ABMS were more adherent and persistent in their medication use than those who did not. The difference in mean adherence rate was 13 percent, thus making those enrolled in an ABMS program 2.57 times more likely to stay adherent to their medications.

The mean number of persistent days for ABMS enrollees was between 181 and 222, while the mean for those not enrolled was between 145 and 182. This confirms what the adherence measure suggests—that ABMS may be helpful in getting those with chronic illnesses to take their medications.

Furthermore, the researchers state that their findings, which suggest positive effects of ABMS, are consistent with other research on ABMS and pharmacy management systems (PMSs) for medication adherence

“This finding is in agreement with the current state of the ABMS literature,” the researchers maintain. “These findings have previously been shown in individual pharmacies and most recently in a large study of 71 members of a regional community pharmacy chain. This study demonstrates that similar results can be obtained through a large, virtual network of independent pharmacies operating on multiple PMSs.”

Furthermore, this study shows the effectiveness of pharmacy networks in maintaining medication adherence. This is notable due to the increasing push for quality, value-based care. The study suggests that networks of hospitals can potentially foster medication adherence, aiding chronic disease management at large.

“Medication adherence is a large component of the Medicare Part D Star Ratings program and will continue to be an important as the health care system moves to outcomes measures and value-based payment models,” the researchers wrote. The ability of these independently-owned community pharmacies to provide a standard level of care for patients is particularly important given the focus on quality outcomes.”




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