Pharmacists and medication adherence

WSJ: β€œ”Retail pharmacists appear to be able to play a really substantial role in encouraging patients to use their medications better,” says William Shrank, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of pharmacoepidemiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “They are an underutilized resource.”

A study by researchers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that a pharmacy-care program for 200 people age 65 and older who were taking at least four medications for chronic conditions boosted adherence to 97% from 61% after six months. Patients were educated about their medications, including usage instructions; medications were dispensed in blister packs that made it easier to keep track of whether they had taken their pills for the day; and pharmacists followed up with patients every two months.

After 12 months, those who continued to get the pharmacy care kept their adherence at about 96%, while adherence among those for whom the program was discontinued dropped to 69%.”

This ties back in to what I was talking about on Saturday, i.e. that better use of pharmacists in the community practice setting might be a good thing. And one way to get community pharmacists to spend more time with patients is to get them out from behind the counter and away from the phones using better automation and technology. The inability of a patient to adhere to their medication regimen costs the healthcare system in the United States millions of dollars each and every year, but for some reason we continue to sit idle and allow it to continue.

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