Medication non-adherence is a costly concern in the healthcare industry, impacting quality of pharmacist care, outcomes, and even the rising cost of care.
Each year, patients not taking their medications as prescribed results in nearly 25 percent of hospitalizations, 125,000 preventable deaths, and upwards of $100 billion in healthcare costs. What’s even more daunting is that one-fourth of new prescriptions are never filled at all—and even when they are filled, roughly 50 percent of patients with chronic conditions don’t take them as prescribed.
COVID-19 has introduced even more medication adherence challenges due to a myriad of factors, ranging from high unemployment rates and loss of employer-based insurance, to mental health struggles, drug shortages, social distancing that limits visits to the pharmacy, and more. The good news is that pharmacists can significantly improve medication adherence (and in turn, their community care) by investing in advanced pharmacy technology.
Here’s how medication adherence technology benefits community care:
Improving Community Care with Medication Adherence Technology
Modern pharmacy technology has completely changed the game for independent pharmacists, introducing new ways to work more efficiently and deliver patient care more effectively. There are various medication adherence technologies available, from patient engagement technology for pharmacists, to smart pill bottles, digital therapeutics, and automated text message reminders.
By making smart use of these technologies to increase medication adherence among patients in their communities, pharmacists can help to improve patient outcomes, lifespan, and quality of life. Caitlin Carroll, who serves as director of public affairs at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, explained the widespread benefits of using technology to improve adherence.
“If we can make it easier for people with chronic conditions to properly take their medicine, we’ll see the dividends not only in the additional years people live but also in the quality of life. If you can improve adherence, that’s a week or a month that people are able to go to work, and the savings from that, between economic growth and reduced federal disability, are significant,” Carroll said.
How can technology improve adherence and the quality of community care? Using medication adherence technology enables independent pharmacists to accomplish the following:
Set up a medication synchronization program to improve adherence.
Medication synchronization (med sync) programs make picking up prescriptions more convenient and efficient for patients by synchronizing all refills so they’re available to pick up at the same time. Med sync programs not only improve medication adherence, but also introduce new revenue streams for pharmacies. In fact, enrolling 100 patients in a med sync program can mean $90,000 in increased profits for your pharmacy each year.
Patient engagement technology for pharmacists, such as FDS ENGAGE, makes it easy to find the time to deploy, grow, and manage a quality med sync program in your pharmacy by simplifying enrollment processes, synchronizing refills automatically for enrolled patients, and spotlighting opportunities to improve adherence. If you’re curious about the benefits of a medication synchronization program, our Med Sync Calculator is a great way to see firsthand the financial impact it can have on your pharmacy business.
Offer medication therapy management (MTM) to encourage adherence.
Medication therapy management services offer pharmacists an opportunity to touch base with patients and help keep them on track between pharmacy visits. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, independent pharmacists can turn to telehealth appointments to check-in with patients regarding their medication regimens.
Plus, having frequent check-ins presents the opportunity for patients to ask a range of questions about their medications. For instance, a patient may have questions on anything and everything from how to take their medications as prescribed, why they’re necessary, what will happen if they stop taking them, and how to manage any potential side effects they encounter.
Spot clinical opportunities to intervene when patients are non-adherent.
Using modern medication adherence technology, independent pharmacists can identify which patients have a history of non-adherence. Along with enabling the seamless management of med sync programs and MTM services, the right software can alert you to non-adherent patients, allowing for timely and targeted intervention counseling to improve adherence and outcomes.
In addition to one-on-on intervention counseling, pharmacists can also use technology to include adherence packaging directly on prescriptions. This way, your patients will have a reminder to take their medications as prescribed, even when they leave the pharmacy counter. For patients struggling with adherence, you might also recommend other adherence technologies, such as interactive text message reminders and smart, wireless pill bottles that chime and light up to alert patients when it’s time to take medications.
Automate manual workflows, freeing up time to spend with patients.
Automation technology has introduced countless benefits for businesses of all sorts, enabling them to get rid of time-consuming and error-prone manual workflows and work more efficiently. Independent pharmacies are no exception. For example, you can speed up the approval process with electronic prior authorization and avoid delays in treatment and/or abandoned prescriptions.
As an independent pharmacist, your time is likely very limited as you attempt to juggle multiple tasks at once. With medication adherence technology available to help streamline pharmacy workflows and improve operational efficiency, you can spend less time completing tasks manually and more time interacting with and counseling patients on their medication regimens.
Choosing the Right Technology to Deliver Top-Quality Patient Care
With the right strategy and technology in place, you can improve adherence, deliver top-quality care for your patients, and work toward becoming a trusted caregiver in your community. As a result, you can improve the health of both your business and the patients you care for—with the positive medication adherence rates and outcomes to prove it.