Pharmaceutical medications are only effective if patients take them as prescribed. While only the patient or a caregiver can ensure that every pill is taken on time, there are a few ways pharmacists can improve medication adherence. Read on to find out about eight strategies that really work.
Offer Automatic Refills
Modern pharmacies need to take advantage of modern Pharmacy Automation Solutions, and that includes offering automatic refills. It’s easy for patients to forget about refilling their prescriptions, which can lead them to skip doses. Automatic refills and pickup reminders make it easier for them to remember when it’s time to pick up pills.
Identify Problem Patients
Pharmacists can use data analytics to identify patients who are not taking their medications as prescribed. If patients are requesting refills before their medications should be running out or aren’t requesting refills on time, that’s usually a dead giveaway.
Identify Barriers to Adherence
There are many barriers to successful medication adherence. Health literacy, difficulty managing multiple medications with different instructions, forgetfulness, cost, side effects, and transportation issues all make the list, and they all require different solutions. Identifying barriers to medication adherence is the first step toward removing them.
One great way to identify barriers to adherence is to simply as the patient or his or her caregiver about medication habits. Ask patients how they keep medications organized, what they do if they miss a dose, and whether they are having trouble keeping track of medications. The answers to these questions may provide insight into how to improve adherence.
Build a Relationship
Patients should feel comfortable discussing concerns about their medications with their pharmacists. Techniques like motivational interviewing are great at changing the narrative and ensuring that patients feel comfortable asking questions and seeking help.
Once pharmacists have identified barriers to medication adherence, they can offer resources that will help. Patients who can’t afford to take their medications as prescribed may be able to switch to generics or enroll in prescription assistance programs. Those who struggle with transportation issues may benefit from prescription delivery services.
Forgetful patients can use reminder tools like text reminders, apps, medication calendars, or even refrigerator reminder magnets. Even patients uncomfortable with the side effects of their medications can often benefit from discussing them with a pharmacist to gain an understanding of why they happen and whether the benefits of the medication outweigh the risk of side effects.
Ask patients’ permission to consult physicians and caregivers about medication issues. When working with caregivers to improve a patient’s medication adherence, pharmacists should always request documentation of the Power of Attorney or an authorized representative before disclosing information.
Although only a doctor can determine whether patients can reduce their medication loads, pharmacists have some tools at their disposal to help clients simplify medication regimens. The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) provides a free program to members called Simplify My Meds. Enrolling in this program is a great way to get started when it comes to improving medication adherence, with some reporting as much as a 30% increase in prescription revenue. That’s good news for patients and pharmacists alike.
The Bottom Line
Ensuring medication adherence requires the collaboration of patients, doctors, and pharmacists. Pharmacists can do their part by addressing potential barriers to medication access, automating services when appropriate, and ensuring that patients understand the importance of taking their medications on time.